Those in the opera world might not be privy to the fact that this weekend marks the final of the UEFA Champions League which will showcase Real Madrid and Juventus fighting for the big title.
And while the Cristiano Ronaldos and Gianluigi Buffons of the world will be the spotlight during the match, the ceremony preceding it will feature something else that has become quite prominent for this tournament – its anthem.
A few fun facts about the hymn. Written by Tony Britten, it is actually heavily influenced by Handel’s Zadok the Priest, an anthem the composer wrote for the Coronation of King George II. The text also appears in the UEFA’s three official languages, English, French, and German.
The text of the hymn goes as follows:
“Ceux sont les meilleurs equipes, Es sind die aller besten Mannschaften, the main event. Die Meister, die Besten, les meilleurs equipes, the champions. Les grandes et les meilleurs! Eine grosse stattliche Veranstaltung, the main event: These are the men, Sie sind die Besten, These are the champions! Die Meister, die Besten, les meilleurs equipes, the champions. Die Meister, die Besten, les meilleurs equipes, the champions.”
The anthem is played at every match of the tournament and in the final usually gets star treatment.
Over the years, major opera stars have appeared to perform the famed tune. Here are some of the most recognizable opera singers.
2009 – Andrea Bocelli
The Italian star was the first major singer to appear for the hymn. The Pisa-born tenor appeared in Rome for the match between Manchester United and Barcelona, which the latter squad won 2-0.
2010 – Juan Diego Flórez
The Peruvian tenor sang the anthem in Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. He, of course, sang the text in Spanish as Internazionale defeated Bayern Munich 2-0.
2012 – Jonas Kaufmann
The Bavarian tenor sang at his home stadium, the Allianz Arena in Munich, as Bayern Munich lost out on the top prize to Chelsea. Kaufmann’s interpretation uses the Italian text.
2015 – Manuel Gomez Ruiz & Nina Maria Fisher
The Spanish tenor and the German soprano took on the hymn in duet as Barcelona defeated Juventus 3-1 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
2016 – Andrea Bocelli
The Italian tenor was invited back to reinterpret the anthem in 2016 as Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid in Milan.
Listen to the different interpreters sing it below: