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Concert Reviews:
Sarah Brightman dazzles the ears, and eyes, at the Fox

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2019

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DETROIT -- Sarah Brightman’s' voice, a soprano that soars and never pierces, is a star in its own right and can highlight any show the British diva performs.

That was certainly the case on Wednesday night, Feb. 13, at the Fox Theatre. But Brightman managed to dazzle more than just the ears during her two-hour, two part performance.

Rest assured that her Hymn World Tour is not quite the same visual spectacle Brightman has performed in the past -- no electronic video screens, for instance, or elevations into the air. Wednesday's show was an earthier and more human affair, designed to let the music carry what Brightman introduced as "an evening of wonderment." Kind of the antithesis of the spectacle Cher delivered the previous night just up the street at Little Caesars Arena.

But oh, those gowns...

Brightman appeared in nine costumes over the course of the show -- sometimes with impressive quick-changes -- all accented with Swarovski crystals and matching tiaras as she morphed from Elizabethan chanteuse to Statue of Liberty to chaste diva. When the lights hit her right Brightman was almost her own mirror ball (though a real one sat behind her at center stage), and the Fox crowd greeted each change as enthusiastically as the songs that accompanied them.

There were plenty of aural highlights as well, of course. Accompanied by a full choir, small orchestra and a four-piece rock band, Brightman started strong with an aggressive pairing of "Gothica/Fleurs du mai" and stretched her voice (as well as her arms) over a selection of classical and operatic pieces such as "Gia nel seno (La storia di lucrezia)", "Misere Me," "Tu Che M'Hai Preso il Cuor," "Canto Per Noi" and Schubert's "Ave Maria." Tenor Vincent Niclo joined her for a spectacular "Sogni" and "Carpe Diem," while newcomer Narcis Ianau dueted with Brightman on "Pie Jesu" from ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem."

Nicio also voiced the male counterpoint during Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" as Brightman, who originated the role of Christine Daae, pushed high enough to make the Fox chandelier vibrate just a bit.

The poppier side of Brightman's repertoire was just as captivating, including versions of Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever," Barclay James Harvest's "Hymn," and her own "Better is One Day," "Fly to Paradise" and "Running." She stripped down the beginning of "Time to Say Goodbye" while sitting at the piano with the band, while "A Question of Honour" ended the night on a majestic note, sandwiching the song's melody between classical motifs.

Brightman's kind of classical crossover can be a bit of a hard sell, as evidenced by the low turnout at the Fox. But her gift, in addition to that generational voice, is in making it more accessible than some might expect an offering a musical experience as brilliant as those crystals adorning her various costumes.

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