The Phantom of the Opera
"Being varied is something I do instinctively and naturally. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Everything is in tune: the voice, the type of music, who I am and who people think I am." Sarah Brightman
English classical soprano and actress Sarah Brightman, who debuted as a dancer, achieved fame as Jemima in the original London cast of the award-winning musical "Cats" (1981) and Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera” (1986).
Brightman, who was nominated for a Grammy for Best Classical Artist in 1986, has sold over 26 million albums worldwide. She is the only artist to hold #1 spots on the Billboard Classical and Dance charts simultaneously.
“I don't know who my audience is. People have said there is an integrity about me and I think there is. I don't try to follow a trend. I have my own little path and although I delve into things, I stay with what I am. I'm quite natural with it. Maybe people feel comfortable with that and they trust it, so they buy it. They'll come and see me in concert. I think I always do a good job in that area.” Sarah Brightman
Brightman recently presented the official anthem "You and Me," alongside Chinese vocalist Liu Huan, at the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony and will next be seen as Blind Mag in the upcoming rock musical "Repo! the Genetic Opera," due to be released on November 7, 2008.
Oldest of Six
Childhood and Family:
The oldest of six children to Granville Brightman (committed suicide in 1992 after divorce and financial issues) and Paula Brightman, Sarah Brightman was born on August 14, 1960, in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. Little Sarah took ballet lessons at age three at the Elmhurst School and appeared in local festivals. At age eleven, Sarah attended the Arts Educational boarding school for jazz and acting.
In 1978, at age 18, Brightman married Andrew Graham Stewart, a music manager, but they divorced in September 1983. While performing in “Cats,” Brightman met composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (born on March 22, 1948), whom she would marry on March 22, 1984, after he divorced his first wife, Sarah Hugill. The couple, who faced intense media and tabloid scrutiny during their partnership, divorced in June 1990.
Brightman subsequently became involved with Frank Peterson, part of the pop group Enigma. After Brightman experienced an ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages with Peterson, the pair split up in 2003. Brightman, who is still friends with her former “The Phantom of the Opera” stage co-star Michael Crawford, is now reportedly dating Louis Oberlander.
At the early age of 13, Sarah Brightman stepped into the world of performing arts when she made her theatrical debut starring in a production of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams' musical “I and Albert” at London's Piccadilly Theatre in 1973.
After being rejected by London's Royal Ballet, 16-year-old Brightman joined the dance group “Pan's People,” a staple on the BBC series “Top of the Pops.” A year later, she became the lead vocalist of “Hot Gossip,” a mixed dance act who appeared regularly on “The Kenny Everett Video Show” and had a chart-topping disco hit in 1978 with "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" and later "Adventures of the Love Crusader." Brightman subsequently went solo and released a number of disco singles in the following years through Whisper Records, including "Not Having That!" and a cover of the song "My Boyfriend's Back."
“Right before I go on stage I'm absolutely terrified. My mind darts at many directions but the center of me is going forward into the performance.” Sarah Brightman
She also joined the original London cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning musical “Cats.” which was based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T. S. Eliot. In the musical that was first shown in London's West End at the New London Theatre on May 11, 1981, Brightman portrayed Jemima, a calico kitten who is also a Rum Tum Tugger fan and friends with Electra, Etcetera, and Victoria.
In December 1982, Brightman starred as the title role in Charles Strouse's opera for children, “Nightingale,” which was based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Nightingale." Brightman also continued to sharpen her singing skills by studying classical voice training at the Royal College of Music.
The subsequent years saw Brightman's popularity increase while she starred in such prestigious theatrical projects as the London and New York premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Requiem” (1985), for which she earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Classical Artist, and a staging of Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár's operetta “The Merry Widow” at New Sadler's Wells Opera.
In 1986, Brightman originated the role of Christine Daaé, a beautiful soprano who becomes the obsession of a mysterious disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera," in Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatrical phenomenon, “The Phantom of the Opera.” The play eventually appeared on Broadway in 1988.
On her role in “Phantom of the Opera,” Brightman commented, “I've always felt as if I was Christine because of her story. After all, she started in the chorus and from that she evolved into a singer, not a big operatic singer, but a singer with a pure and versatile voice which was classical.”
Brightman released her first solo CD, “The Songs That Got Away” in 1989 and during the '90s, the top-selling album “Dive” (1993, her first album with producer Frank Peterson), the pop and rock influenced “Fly “ (1995; re-released in 1996), “Time To Say Goodbye” (1997; known as "Timeless" in Europe), and “Eden” (1998), which peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Classical Crossover Albums.
“When I sing, I close my eyes. If I see a feather, everything is fine. Without this image in my mind, the sound is not 'truthful' enough and I must begin again. I have to. I first had this feeling, this instinct with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and since then have always listened to it.” Sarah Brightman
Hitting the new millennium, Brightman released "La Luna.” The album, which combines pieces written by classical and modern composers, spawned the singles "Scarborough Fair," "La Luna" (Promo in Brazil), "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," and "Here with me" (Promo EU). Brightman has also been featured in a number of cast albums for shows in which she appeared, including “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Nightingale and Song,” and “Dance.” She also starred in various stage performances, including “Trelawny of the Wells,” “Relative Values,” “Dangerous Obsession” and “The Innocents.”
Brightman's next album, "Classics," an album of operatic arias and other classical pieces, hit the music stores on November 20, 2001. She then released "Harem" (2003), which mixes her operatic voice with Middle-Eastern and Indian rhythms and vocals. In the album, she collaborated with artists like Ofra Haza and Iraqi singer Kazem al-Saher. Nigel Kennedy also contributed violin tracks to the songs "Free" and "The War is Over," while Jaz Coleman contributed arrangements. The album peaked at #29 on the Billboard 200 charts, #1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart, and yielded a #1 dance/club single with the remix of the title track.
In 2005, Brightman released "Love Changes Everything - The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, Volume 2," which contains songs from various shows for which Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music. Afterward, she embarked on live tours and performed in the “Concert For Diana” in July 2007 at the Chinese leg of “Live Earth in Shanghai,” and at the 2007 IAAF Championships in Osaka, Japan, on August 25. She also appeared at the 2007 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and recorded a duet with Anne Murray called "Snowbird" on Murray's 2007 album "Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends."
Three years later, in 2008, Brightman released her first album in five years, an operatic album called "Symphony.” The album produced the singles "I Will Be with You" (featuring Chris Thompson), "Running," and "Pasión" (featuring Fernando Lima) and was very successful in the United States.
Brightman recently presented the official anthem "You and Me," alongside Chinese vocalist Liu Huan, at the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony. "Being up there was one of the biggest thrills in my life." Sarah Brightman
Soon, moviegoers will catch her starring as Blind Mag in the rock musical film "Repo! the Genetic Opera," which is based on a play written and composed by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich. The film is due to be released on November 7, 2008.
RTL Golden Lion Awards: Special Award, 1997