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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisAs the best selling soprano singer of all time, Sarah Brightman's become an international sensation known for her soaring pipes, sensual presentation and varied performance styles. She first captured the hearts of theatergoers with a show stopping role in "The Phantom of the Opera" (and was even married to its creator Andrew Lloyd Webber for six years), though her repertoire also includes ballet dancing and televised concert specials. With over 26 million albums sold, this "popera" star of sorts has seamlessly blended the lines of classical composition, symphonic elegance and even dance club pop, in turn paving the way for like-minded vocal giants like Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo.
Touring in support of her two latest CDs Symphony and A Winter Symphony (Manhattan), the red dress clad chanteuse opened with the current cut "Fleurs Du Mal," a highly orchestrated rocker that sounded like it could've come from Trans Siberian Orchestra's cannon. But that electricity instantly shifted to serenity come the beautiful new age ballad "Let It Rain," along with the serene and delicate "Symphony."
Outside of her own material, the first act of the gala evening also included two curious covers. Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" was transformed from an easygoing jazz giant into a silky serenade, amplified further by Brightman's gorgeous silver gown. She also addressed Kansas' "Dust In the Wind," framed acoustically at first before exploding with a rich symphonic undercurrent.
The second act showcased additional variety, such as her Kate Bush-like "You Take My Breath Away" and "The Phantom of the Opera," which found her range reaching the heavens (even if her vocal runs were a bit over the top towards the end). She addressed the sounds of the season on just a handful of occasions via the touching "I Believe In Father Christmas" and the timeless "Ave Maria," the latter of which featured the album's original duet partner Fernando Lima as an eloquent surprise.
However, there were a few missteps in the latter half, starting with a foolish "Alice In Wonderland" skit and an even more bizarre "Little Redding Riding Hood" segment that found Brightman riding a bicycle suspended in midair. Nonetheless, the evening including breathtaking production come "Attesa" (which found her swaying on a swing as rose petals fell) and the slickly choreographed classical/club combo cut "Running," featuring Brightman and her eight dancers performing lying down as their images were reflected on a floor to ceiling screen. It was a fitting finale to an unpredictable event that found this celebrated singer connecting with just as much vocal quality as colorful spectacle.
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