So­prano set to soar, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jen Zoratti

LAST Oc­to­ber, crossover queen Sarah Brightman an­nounced she was plan­ning to take a lit­tle trip — to outer space. The best­selling Bri­tish so­prano will join a three-per­son crew on a fu­ture or­bital space­flight mis­sion to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, slated for 2015. Once on the ISS, Brightman will or­bit Earth 16 times per day dur­ing her 12-day trip and in­tends to be­come the first pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian to sing from space.

She’ll be the first space tourist since Cirque du soleil founder Guy Lal­ib­erté, who made the trip in 2009. And no, Brightman has not seen Grav­ity yet. “It’s a movie, so I’m sure they’re go­ing to put in ev­ery hor­ren­dous thing that can hap­pen in an hour-and-ahalf,” she says of Al­fonso Cuarón’s stranded-in-space box-of­fice hit with a laugh. “But I in­tend to see it. I’m sure it’s gor­geous.” Brightman, 53, has long been en­am­oured by the cos­mos. Space in­spired her 11th stu­dio al­bum, Dream­chaser, which was re­leased ear­lier this year. “(Space) gave me some beau­ti­ful ex­panses and a gor­geous pal­ette to work with,” says the singer, who fa­mously orig­i­nated the role of Chris­tine in the Lon­don and Broad­way pro­duc­tions of The Phan­tom of the Opera. “Even the small­est sound in my voice could sud­denly be very ex­pan­sive.” Dream­chaser is cer­tainly ex­pan­sive, but bold is another ad­jec­tive that comes to mind. Helmed by vet­eran Bri­tish pro­ducer/engi­neer Mike Hedges (the Cure, Siouxsie and the Ban­shees, Manic Street Preach­ers), the sur­real, evoca­tive con­cept al­bum boasts a se­lec­tion of risky cov­ers, among them Glósóli by Ice­landic ex­per­i­men­tal post-rock out­fit Sigur Rós, Breathe Me by Aus­tralian singer Sia Furler and Eperdu by Scot­tish al­trock­ers the Cocteau Twins. They ex­ist beau­ti­fully along­side safer bets such as Wings’ Venus and Mars and con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal selec­tions such as Hen­ryk Górecki’s Lento E Largo from Sym­phony No. 3, Op. 36 ( Sym­phony of Sor­row­ful Songs). “I wanted to pick some more un­usual choices,” Brightman ac­knowl­edges, point­ing to her English reimag­in­ing of Glósóli by way of ex­am­ple. “I’ve al­ways been a fan of Sigur Rós and this piece... we’ve used the word ‘ex­pan­sive’ and this piece has won­der­ful ex­panses. It evokes Ice­land and the so­lar en­er­gies they’re liv­ing among in that coun­try.” The Cocteau Twins’ song, mean­while, speaks to a dif­fer­ent as­pect of space.

“It’s all about the stars and the plan­ets and the wild­ness of it all,” she says. “It’s about al­low­ing your spirit to go free. There’s a free­dom to that song.” Brightman is on a world tour in sup­port of Dream­chaser, which will see her per­form 67 dates in three con­ti­nents by the end of the year. Mean­while, she’s been com­plet­ing her cos­mo­naut train­ing in ad­vance of her space flight.

“It’s in­tense in short bursts,” she says. “There are med­i­cals again and again. There’s mo­tion-sick­ness train­ing. But there are very good rea­sons for all of this — and, of course, any­thing can hap­pen be­tween now and 2015. If I fail a med­i­cal, I can’t go.” If she does get to go, how­ever, she’ll re­al­ize a dream she’s had since she saw the grainy tele­vi­sion footage of Neil Arm­strong walk­ing on the moon in 1969. “I was a child of the ’60s. Space was ev­ery­where — it was even on our ce­real pack­ets,” she re­calls. (It was the decade that pro­duced The Jet­sons, af­ter all.) “It was part of our daily lives and we were led to be­lieve that it would be very much a part of our fu­ture. It re­ally in­spired so many peo­ple.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Sarah Brightman demon­strates she isn’t afraid of heights; the singer

is go­ing to travel to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion in 2015.

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