The current Los Angeles Kings-Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup playoff series, which resumes Wednesday night, is a case in point.
Yes, there are plenty of bearded, helmet- and armor-clad Nordic types doing battle for the chance to possess a coveted piece of precious metal, albeit a silver cup rather than a ring of Rhinegold. But more important, we've noticed there's a literal connection between the two seemingly disparate worlds of hockey and opera, and specifically the Kings and Ring Festival LA.
To wit: Before Monday night's Game 3, bass-baritone Alan Held sang the Canadian and U.S. national anthems -- certainly a change of pace from his recent role as Gunther in Los Angeles Opera's production of "Götterdämmerung." Held got a wild ovation from the towel-twirling, standing-room-only crowd. And he might even be considered a good-luck charm now, after the Kings went on to win the game 5-3.
Held is not the first opera singer to perform before a Kings game. In fact, Benjamin Salisbury, the supervisor of game presentation and events for the team, says that the Kings and Los Angeles Opera (and its Young Artist Program) have long worked together to present singers such as Joseph Kaiser, Agostino Castagnola, Kyle Ketelsen, Angel Blue and Valerie Vinzant.
But perhaps the most celebrated opera-related performance of the bunch came back in a regular-season game on April 1, when the Kings routed the Canucks, coincidentally enough, by a score of 8-3. With the match all but over, the L.A. mascot, Bailey (pictured), donned a Brünnhilde outfit -- complete with gold tresses and silver bustier -- while an aria was piped over the arena's loudspeakers.
With the Kings now up 2 games to 1 in their best-of-seven series -- and another three rounds to go before the ultimate prize is awarded -- L.A. hockey fans would no doubt be happy to see Brünnhilde Bailey make several encores.
-- Scott Sandell
RelatedL.A. Times' Ring Festival LA page
Photo: Kings mascot Bailey dons a Brünnhilde costume near the conclusion of the Kings' 8-3 victory over Vancouver on April 1. Credit: Fox Sports West