What: Sarah Brightman
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6:30)
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
Tickets: $64.50, $94.50 and $129.50 (plus service charges) at the Save-on-Foods Memorial box office (1925 Blanshard St.), by phone at 220-7777, or online at selectyourtickets.com.
Note: Tickets purchased for Brightman’s March 20 date will be honoured
For each world tour, Sarah Brightman puts together a wishlist that will put on stage during her concerts a set of vivid images she has dancing around in her head.
When her real and imaginary worlds mesh together beautifully, as they have done often during her current Dreamchaser tour, the legendary singer can barely believe the very creative and overwhelmingly successful life she leads.
“I put a lot into what I do, and a lot of thought,” Brightman said recently, during a day off from her run of Dreamchaser dates. “It wasn’t calculated in any way, it’s just that what I was doing is being embraced in many places. I feel lucky that all the hard work I put in has been accepted. It’s been lovely.”
Brightman concerts are highly stylized events full of fancy props, lavish costumes, and visual ephemera — a total package that is befitting of a famously over-the-top (not to mention incredibly successful) classical crossover soprano.
All of it is tied to a very specific set of guidelines laid out by the 53-year-old Briton, who spends up two years planning each of her tours. “The audience gets to see what is going on in my head, what world I was in [when I created it],” she said.
“I’m an interpreter of music, rather than a composer of music. When I listen to pieces that interest me, they conjure all sort of wonderful things in my mind, and I think everybody is the same with music. It’s very evocative. It’s a wonderful thing. It brings all sorts of emotions to us. I try as hard as I can to translate that visually on stage.”
Her current Dreamchaser tour, which was inspired by her 2013 album of the same name, covers an area — specifically, space travel — that has long been a source of interest for Brightman. Not surprisingly, both the tour and album are rooted in one of the biggest, boldest items currently on her agenda — preparations for flying into space.
Brightman was approved for space travel last summer, and in the months since has been re-routing her personal and professional life to accommodate the demands of such a journey. She has already begun her cosmonaut training, some of it in Houston, with NASA astronauts, and some of it in Russia, and is expected to be the first celebrity to visit the International Space Station.
She is due to make the trip in 2015, pending medical clearance, through an association with trip provider Space Adventures Ltd., whose advisory board includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Rumours put the cost of each individual space flight in the neighbourhood of $40 million per person.
Though an album and tour centred on space travel comes at a point when art truly is imitating life for Brightman, the singer said the idea has been percolating for decades.
“Since I was a child, looking up at the stars, as we naturally were as children being brought up in the ’60s, we bought into the whole ideal of travel in and exploration of space.
“Back then, it seemed very, very possible for a normal human being to be going up in the very near future. It opened a lot of people’s imagination at that time. That, invariably, wound itself into what I do.”
Brightman’s show is full of music that reflects the visions she had as a child. Everything from the Wings song Venus and Mars and Dvorak’s Song to the Moon to Holst’s The Planets are included in the set, which will be unveiled Thursday in Victoria at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
She has played the arena once before, five years ago. At one point during that Christmas-themed concert, a storm raging outside resulted in a 20-minute power failure. “I remember it well,” Brightman said with a pixie-like laugh. “You know what I remember mostly? The kindness of the audience. They were really, really lovely.”
The show did continue, and Brightman drew a standing ovation from the sold-out audience for her efforts. Brightman said she managed to overcome the obstacle with help from her longtime band and crew, who went into “survival mode” during the power outage. “That’s our job. To keep it together.”
Obstacles are nothing new for Brightman, who is credited with creating the classical crossover genre off of which the PBS network has made its name.
She played Jemima in the original London cast of Cats, after which she married the show’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber (the two have long since divorced). She originated the role of Christine Daaé in both the original British and Broadway productions of The Phantom of the Opera, forever ensuring her status as the grand dame (or is it diva?) of stage musicals.
In wild style, she scaled even greater heights as a recording artist. Her albums have earned more than 180 gold and platinum sales certifications, not including the 30 million copies that The Phantom of the Opera original cast recording has reportedly sold. She has a reputation to uphold, indeed. When plans to have Dreamchaser released on schedule earlier this year did not pan out, Brightman postponed the majority of her tour dates (including her previously announced March 20 date in Victoria) until later in the year. When you spend years creating something, and even more time taking it around the world, there’s no room for error, she said.
Brightman is prepared to take a break from music when space travel enters into her life, so she is enjoying every last minute of her Dreamchaser tour. It may wind up being her last for some time.
“I’m not meant to go up [in space] for a couple of years now, and it’s very dependent on health. I am 53 now, and I’m very aware of that, and anything could happen.
“The journey itself has been an incredible thing. It’s an interesting place to be in. But to tell you the truth, the fact that I’ve made the journey thus far has been incredibly fulfilling.”
That doesn’t mean she is eager to stop performing. Her cosmonaut training has shown Brightman an entirely new side of the world, and she hopes that she has more tours and albums in her yet.
“As I get older, I become more imaginative, and feel like I have maybe a shorter time to get a lot of things going on in my mind done. I look at composers and conductors, anybody involved in music or writing or art in general, they got more done as they got older. If I can, I’ll be one of those people because what I do is my passion.”