Duke Football’s Opera Singing Offensive Lineman Goes Viral


A towering figure at 6-foot-7, 329 pounds with a full beard and shoulder-length golden hair, Chance Lytle stands out among Duke’s offensive linemen.

That’s true on the pitch, where he fights for a starting position, and off it, where he can grab a microphone and sing Italian opera music.

The Blue Devils were treated to this last Sunday evening during a team meal when Lytle went a capella to sing a few lines, in Italian, of Andrea Bocelli’s “Con te partirò”.

After hearing other players sing not as well and knowing that Lytle earned a degree in music and vocal performance from Colorado before transferring to Duke this year, some of the Blue Devils sang and pounded the table so that Lytle stand up and sign.

When he finished, everyone jumped out of their seats to wildly applaud.

“He’s getting up there and I have no idea what the name of the song is,” Duke linebacker Dorian Mausi said Tuesday. “But I’m like ooooh snaap! He understood it for sure.

On Monday night, Duke posted a TikTock video of Lytle’s performance and it quickly went viral on the internet.

Non-opera fans might recognize the song from the end of the 2008 movie, “Step Brothers,” where actor Will Farrell sang a version.

Lytle, with Colorado appearances in operas such as “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in his past, enjoyed entertaining his teammates and grew accustomed to the attention.

“I tried to keep up the pace,” Lytle said. “I’m not that big on social media, but I tried to be. Everyone contacts me and tells me what’s going on.

A musician from an early age, Lytle has a natural ear for music and comes from a musically inclined family.

“My mom kills him at karaoke all the time,” Lytle said, adding that Lanita Lytle also plays guitar and her dad, Gregory Lytle, plays piano.

Growing up in San Antonio, Lytle took up the violin in fourth grade and joined an orchestra. He planned to study music at university.

A growth spurt in high school gave him the opportunity to play college football. It also made it difficult to play the violin because his hands were getting so big. He spent some time playing the cello.

He accepted a scholarship from Colorado and planned to study music there and pursue the violin.

However, recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum made it difficult to practice the violin for a few months when he had to audition. While in Colorado as a freshman, he discovered that playing football was nicking his fingers, which again impacted his ability to play the violin.

So he took another musical path that didn’t involve an instrument.

“Offensive linemen tend to take a lot of finger and hand damage,” Lytle said. “So I thought maybe it would be more profitable and safer in the long run for my career if I stayed with vocals. I just fell in love with it. I realized I didn’t really want to come back into I still like to play the violin, but I have a natural talent for (voice) more. It’s just kind of the path that went before me for opera.

Duke teammates who were unaware of his hidden talent left Sunday night’s team meal impressed.

“He’s awesome,” Duke second-year wide receiver Shamir Hagans said. “And that shocked me. I really didn’t expect that, to be honest. You know, most player chants are pretty bad. But he got up there and killed him. He definitely killed him.

Lytle, 24, has plans for a professional football career. When it’s done, he wants to use his voice for a career. As an operatic bass, its sound will improve as it ages and deepens.

“The starving artists thing is very real,” Lytle said. “I actually have some really good skills on the football pitch which I’ll probably try to apply in different ways. I’m not sure yet. But in the long term, yes, the goal is to be singing all my life.

This story was originally published August 10, 2022 6:10 a.m.

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Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. It placed second for both rhythm writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors National Competition. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats such as the Panthers of NFL Carolina and Orleans New Saints, University of South Carolina Athletics and SC General Assembly. It has won numerous awards from state-level press associations. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.


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