I closely followed Sarah Brightman’s performances from the 90s to 2007 when I moved to other musical discoveries. I heard about her famous Symphony Live concert in Vienna of January 2008 and I put it on my list. Six years later I had the chance to watch it. Once more Sarah Brightman proved why she is the world’s best selling soprano of all time.
The concert venue
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna was an inspired choice for a concert venue as the music as such has developed over the centuries in places like that. The Symphony’s gothic style could not have a better sound elsewhere. The cathedral history is linked to names like Mozart and Beethoven. It is said that Beethoven became aware of his deafness when he could not hear the cathedral bell tolling while birds were flying out due to the bells’ noise.
The cathedral is famous for its richly patterned and coloured roof composed of glazed tiles. The monument has witnessed the history of Vienna and of its inhabitants from the construction days to nowadays. The cathedral organ came into the picture during the concert and it brought in a genuine music touch.
Singing in several languages, Sarah refined her voice over the past years. With a natural vibrato, she prepares her performance professionally. Her voice covers a three-octave vocal range. She was able to sing her highest note, which is the E6 final, in the piece “The Phantom of the Opera”.
While performing she is able to easily switch from pop to classical. A relevant example is the song “Running”.
People labelled her music as classical crossover. She disagrees, although she was saying that she respects people’ need to categorise music.
The concert included special guests that performed duets with Sarah: Alessandro Safina, Fernando Lima and Chris Thompson. Being familiar with her shows and her vocal performances, I expected to enjoy a regular Brightman evening. I would say that it was more than that even though Chris Thompson was disappointing. He could not shine as the evening main performer did.
The live performance was very close to its studio version. It was not obvious from the beginning that a large orchestra and a powerful choir are behind the performance.
To me the best moment of the concert was the duet performance with Alessandro Safina. The Canto Della Terra is a powerful song and a number of details contributed to put it on top of my preferences: the two performers, the outfits, the lighting, the imagery, the choir, the orchestra and especially the two trumpets at the end of the performance.
In the DVD bonus interview Sarah Brightman describes all songs and their meanings to her.
In two words, I would describe the concert as a breathtaking and outstanding performance by a singer who pushes her artistic limits thoroughly.
Sarah Brightman is acknowledged as the pioneer of marrying pop and opera. She is an example shortly followed by other artists: Il Divo, Josh Groban and the Tenors.
The concert in Vienna once more strengthens Sarah Brightman’s reputation of a complete artist: a soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer.
In this video: Sarah Brightman and Alessandro Safina performing Canto Della Terra (Song Of the Earth), in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, January 2008