Baylor Grad Tapped to Perform German National Anthem at Sunday's European Soccer ChampionshipJune 26, 2008
Before America's Super Bowl every year, there's one question as anticipated as the game itself: who will sing the national anthem?
So who will perform the national anthem (or anthems) before Sunday's finals of the European Soccer Championship, a worldwide stage that rivals the Super Bowl?
Texas native and Baylor University graduate Eddie Gauntt will perform the German national anthem before Sunday's match in Vienna between Germany and Spain. The finals will be internationally televised Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT (2:30 p.m. ET) on ABC.
As a baritone for the renowned opera in Karlsruhe, Germany, Gauntt has performed on some of the most prestigious opera stages in Europe. On Sunday, the 1979 Baylor graduate and designated "Kammersaenger" will sing before a stadium full of passionate soccer fans and an estimated 100 million viewers watching ABC's broadcast.
This isn't the first time Gauntt has performed the German national anthem at a major sporting event. On May 29, 2004, he became the first American invited to sing the anthem before the German national soccer finals at Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
In addition to major operatic roles throughout Europe, Gauntt has performed for President Bill Clinton, Prince Bernhard of Baden, King Juan Carlos the First of Spain, and the Ex-Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder.
Gauntt was born and raised in Clifton, Texas. After receiving his bachelor's degree in music from Baylor in 1979, he won a Rotary Scholarship to attend a music academy in Vienna, Austria. He and his wife, Cae Cooley Gauntt - herself a talented singer-composer and 1978 Baylor music graduate - went together to Vienna.
A year after their arrival, in 1980, they both landed roles in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Theater an der Wien, with Cae in the lead role of Mary. Then, in 1982, Gauntt won a spot in the apprentice program at the Wiener Staatsoper (The Vienna State Opera), where he received world-class training. They were scheduled to be in Vienna for 10 months, but they stayed for four years. In 1984, Gauntt joined the Krefeld, Germany, opera house. Since 1985, he has been an ensemble member in Karlsruhe.
A major honor came his way in March 2006, when Gauntt was awarded the title of "Kammersaenger" for outstanding achievement by the German State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
One of his proudest early moments was singing a Wagner opera for the great grandson of the composer - a Texan singing a classic German opera.
"The orchestra is huge for Wagner, and you have to sing loud enough to be heard," Gauntt said on his website. "I remember thinking, I'm a Texan, and I shouldn't be doing this. But I was accepted and the performance was well received. It was a moment of triumph."
He also has played Professor Higgins in Lerner and Loew's "My Fair Lady" many times, including performances in the largest open-air theater in Germany. "The production was in German, and this Texan got to teach the German Eliza to speak properly!" he said.