Whether you fell in love with her lush vocals through her classical recordings or during her star turning performance in The Phantom of the Opera or on a dance floor to her remixes to songs like “Harem”, once you hear Sarah Brightman’s music, you are an instant fan. The woman that has pioneered the classical crossover movement is now bringing A Christmas Symphony to Ocean Casino Resort’s Ovation Hall on December 4th. We sat down to chat with this luminous performer who shared her insight into how her vocal abilities have evolved as her career has progressed and what it is like returning to the stage with colleagues like Aled Jones and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Michael Cook: You are returning to the stage and to touring this year with your Sarah Brightman-A Christmas Symphony show coming to Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ on Saturday December 4th. What is it like to finally be able to return to the stage after the extended pause we all had to take with the pandemic?
Sarah Brightman: It is such a relief. Not just to be performing again, but to employ everybody. So many people that are revered in music and the arts, they have been delivering packages and things like that, just to keep going; it has been so hard for everyone. For everyone to be able to go back to doing what they know they are able to do, it is really just fantastic. It is not only a relief for me to perform out there, but for the many people that I will be with on stage.
MC: The holidays are always magical, but for you to be able to perform a holiday show like A Christmas Symphony probably makes this time of year that much sweeter, is that fair to say?
SB: You know, it’s so funny because last year we were right in the middle of everything and Britain had locked down quite heavily. I knew that Christmas was going to be horrible for everyone that celebrates it, so I thought that maybe I could stream something? We put together a show for streaming through my website and it did incredibly well. I wanted everyone who watched it to feel that we were doing something to help get them through it. I had never done a Christmas show in the United States, but we figured now would be the perfect time. It has been such fun and I have been really looking forward to it.
MC: A Sarah Brightman concert is always a treat, but showcasing people like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Aled Jones takes it to another level, particularly for the LGBTQ community. How sweet must it have been to get the chance to reunite with people you have collaborated with for this holiday show?
SB: It was really great to get together just to help everyone else, especially at that tricky time. I have known Aled since he was a boy and of course Andrew, he was so desperate to get theater going again and did a lot of hard work in this country to deal with the government. He was working to make sure that they knew that actors and actresses have to have a voice at this time. They were the ones educating everyone through this time on Netflix or streaming services. It was joyous to have that precious time with these composers and performers.
MC: As a performer, what do you think is the highest note that you can hit?
SB: Well that is difficult to say. Whether you want a high note with perfect quality…what happens is you get older and you can’t reach those kind of high notes. The voice is like a wine, it becomes richer. Your higher notes are better. I can go to a top C, but I may prefer to sit with a high note of a G or an A, it may sound better than the top C; it’s richer there and you get more enjoyment out of it. That is the thing about voices, they change and have different qualities about them, depending on what you want to do.
MC: That is a fantastic point; “the voice becomes richer”. So many times, as artists progress in their career, people try to zero in on when they think they are not sounding like they always have. It sounds like though, that they are not supposed to.
SB: It’s supposed to change, you have to think of it as a wine. Like a really good wine that has all of that youth and freshness when it’s younger and then as it matures it actually becomes more of what people want. Actually, it is lots of fun to work with as you get older. There is a repertoire that you would not have touched when you were younger, and now that you are older you are allowed. When I was younger I remember being in Los Angeles seeing all of these older ladies being so glamorous and I thought “I would love to be glamorous like that”. I couldn’t be because I was not in the right place yet to be that; at that time, that is what I looked to as beauty.
MC: Casey Wilson mentioned in her book The Wreckage Of My Presence that she sang “Send in The Clowns” at an audition and was not nearly ready from a life perspective and told the story brilliantly; it’s the same kind of idea.
B: That’s true. Speaking of A Little Night Music, I went to see it in the summer when some theaters were doing their thing at the Buxton International Festival production. It was the first time back for the audience, they all sat very politely with their masks on, and there were all of these rules. At the end, people were crying; it was such a relief to see something and to be involved in art again, collectively. We talked about how something is taken away from us during a lockdown, especially in the arts; how precious it all really is.
MC: So many discovered you on a dance floor to the brilliant remixes of your music like ‘Harem’. When did you look around and notice that you had a remarkably large LGBTQ fan base?
SB: Well my brother is gay and and he would love what I did. He would collect all of my albums and the newspaper articles, so that was my first experience. When I was doing records like “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper” when I was hanging out in the late 70’s with Amanda Lear, I had a gay following then; it has always been there. The gay community has such a great taste for what is coming next. I always feel in such a great place when the gay community says “that’s great we love that”. Then I know that I am on the right path.
MC: The past year and a half has been truly life-changing for so many people. What do you think you have learned about yourself as a person and a performer in the past year and a half?
SB: Probably how many things I got wrong! How precious everything was that I worked for. Communicating with other people in what I do. I felt lucky because I could be with my family, but it was about the gifts that I have been given; I was just so desperate to use them again. I think that is really what I learned.
Sarah Brightman appears at Ovation Hall this Saturday, December 4th (tickets available here).
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