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Opera stars impress on ice

Unusual synergy for national anthems pleases hockey fans

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Bass singer Hannu Forsberg and soprano Sirkka Lampimäki performed the Kazakh and Finnish national anthem on Monday. Photo: Anni Suikkanen

HELSINKI – Singers of the Finnish National Opera lifted the ice hockey atmosphere to the roof before Finland’s games of the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Many awarded opera singers performed the national anthems of both teams before each of Finland’s seven preliminary-round games together with the French Horn Quartet.

While national anthems used to be played only for the winning team after the game – as it will be done in the final round – both teams’ anthems were played before the first puck drop in the preliminary round.

The result was impressive performances by the opera singers that gave the fans goose bumps before the games.

Kimmo Rantamäki, the marketing communication planner of the Finnish National Opera, says that the Opera wants to brand itself as art form of the people and sees that both genres has the same kind of a twinkle.

“The spirit of co-operation developed easily after bass Matti Salminen had promised to perform the Finnish national anthem Maamme before the first Finnish game,” Rantamäki said. “After that we started to think who would be in the positive and brave mood to do the same. We found out that all singers were very enthusiastic about this idea.”

Kazakh challenge for bass baritone Forsberg

To learn and perform songs in foreign languages that one does not necessarily know is very common to an opera singer. The probably most exotic language in Finland was Kazakh, a Turkic language that even most players of the national team from the bilingual country in Central Asia don’t know.

“The national anthem of Kazakhstan was very challenging if you don’t know the language and you don’t find familiar elements,” says Hannu Forsberg, who accepted the challenge.

During his career Forsberg has performed to more than one million listeners, but he has not performed before in hockey games or ice rinks.

“I wanted to sleep on it before making the decision to sing the Meniñ Qazaqstanim anthem, but it was fantastic to participate on this fine event,” he said. “The atmosphere before the song was excitingly tense.”

Maamme with garlic and ginger

Soprano Sirkka Lampimäki performed Maamme, the Finnish national anthem, for the first time at an ice rink.

“It is a great honour to perform Maamme at this kind of event,” said Lampimäki, who didn’t feel too nervous about the crowd as she had performed before a similar amount of spectators before.

“I was rather wondering whether my voice would hold, but I had prepared myself with garlic and ginger,” she tells her secret, being dressed in a fabulous blue and white dress and the Finland theme continued all the way to the nail polish.

Even if she was worried about her voice, it worked out well and she talks about her new experience with a smile.

“I even heard somewhere in between the Maamme song someone shouting supportively my name,” she said. “It was a fantastic experience.”
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