“What people never really understand is that the actual vocal cords themselves never get old,” says Sarah Brightman. “From the day that [you’re born] to when you die, they should be the same. What happens is that when people get older, it’s the matter around the cords that starts to do what it does with old age. But you can work with that.”
Brightman should know. The velvet soprano who famously and triumphantly originated the role of Christine Daaé in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, first in London’s West End in 1986 and two years later on Broadway, works hard at maintaining her angelic, pristine voice. Frequent three-hour sessions with a singing coach are the norm.
“I train all the time,” she says. “That’s part of my job. At the end of the day, apart from the spirit of the voice — the metaphysical, which is a different thing — [vocal cords are] a muscle. They need working out. And that’s what I do.”
Brightman notes that even at the age of 61, keeping her voice in top shape has allowed her to sing “repertoire that I wouldn’t have touched when I was younger. I can now go there, and it’s actually very satisfying. You can always keep a youthful, fresh voice if you just keep working at it.”
Brightman will appear at The Music Center at Strathmore on Dec. 6 and 7 with “A Christmas Symphony.” And like so many performers, she’s elated to be singing in front of live audiences again, especially as she sees the holiday season as a balm of hope and healing.
“There’s beautiful Christmas spirit in the show,” she says of the production, which includes an orchestra and choir. “It ticks every box for Christmas. It has material for my own fans, of course, but it also has pieces that are proper hymns made for Christmas that we all know. And then it’s got more progressive rock pieces, which were designed for Christmastime as well. And then some unusual pieces, which are not necessarily for Christmas, but talk about this kind of year — because maybe the spirit of Christmas isn’t for everybody every year.”
As for her personal favorite Christmas song? “I think a piece like ‘Silent Night,’ done in German or done in English, is just absolutely beautiful. That’s my favorite. It may be pretty normal to say that, but that’s what I like.”
Sarah Brightman’s A Christmas Symphony plays The Music Center at Strathmore on Monday, Dec. 6 and Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $68-$238. Visit www.strathmore.org. For more tour dates in additional cities, visit www.sarahbrightman.com/tours.
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