On Saturday February 9, 2019, Sarah Brightman launched her Canadian tour in support of her latest and twelfth album HYMN, a 13-track compilation. The venue, Place Bell, in Laval seemed just right, though unfortunately for the promoters it seemed to be filled only to three-quarters to capacity. Overall, many of the fans, clearly long-time Sarah Brightman fans seemed to be relishing in the company of their soprano diva. Though it would be fair to say that the show was far from flawless.
Even though there had been a warning outside for those with bright light sensitivity, particularly with photosensitive epilepsy, I thought we were much further along in society and moving away from the flash. It did not contribute to my enjoyment of the show, and the set producers should have thought things through just a little more, or maybe I am just showing my age.
After her first two or three pieces Brightman made brief introduction, in that she would be singing some of older material as well as some other material, that was not part of her recently released album. For the most part throughout her performance she was both poised and extremely comfortable with her material, and this came as no surprise. There were pieces in which the backing vocalists would have been a joy to listen to without instrumental accompaniment, they clearly added to the fullness of rich melodies. Though there was one particular spot where Brightman seemed to be in competition with the accompanying band and orchestra, all excellent musicians in their own right. Though I would like to give her benefit of the doubt when it came to this probably unplanned competition with the band and orchestra, as this was most likely due to the sound engineer down at the soundboard. Nevertheless, in any such grandiose production, every little detail contributes or detracts from the performance as a whole.
Another not so positive take-away was during her performance of Canto Per Noi, 5th track on the album, a duet with Narcis (counter-tenor). Here she seemed to be having some difficulty in getting to her high end, whereas Narcis seemed to be getting the better of her during their duet.
She opened her second set with Hymn; the title track of her latest release, composed by well-known composer of film scores Ennio Morricone, and it was well received by many fans, myself included.
Prior to performing Tu Che M’Hai Preso Il Cuor, the 11th track on the album, she shared with the audience how it had been in hearing Luciano Pavarotti perform the piece that had given her the impetus to add it to her repertoire. I felt she did the great master justice in her rendition of the work.
As she moved towards the end of her repertoire, Time To Say Goodbye, which had become well known from her duet with Andrea Bocelli received a warm welcome from her fans.
Of her guest performers who she gave a chance to shine was tenor Vincent Niclo, though this primarily only happened in her second set, where this did not seem to be the case in their duet during the first set. It happened just before the end of her show where the audience truly enjoyed the interplay between the former and Brightman during Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
As the show came to a close, I was amazed at how many people were standing. I found it to be a bit of a surprise. Though when artists begin producing music for the masses, and towards the lowest common denominator of a population who consider themselves music aficionado’s it is so much easier to get people to rise up and support you.
Sarah Brightman’s Canadian tour continues, with one more Canadian date in Vancouver on March 12, 2019.
A full listing of here entire tour can be found at: www.sarahbrightman.com/tours/