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Brightman content to leave musical theater behind

Singer to bring new lunar-themed songs to Delta Center Thursday

Sarah Brightman, who gained international fame in two of her ex-husband's musical hits, "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera," has no desire to get back into musical theater. She's perfectly content exploring new forays in the recording studio and concert stage.

Brightman, who will make a Salt Lake City appearance on Thursday, March 8, in the Delta Center, recently completed a new recording with a lunar theme. It's an eclectic, ethereal collection of tunes, ranging from classics by Handel, Rachmaninoff and Dvorak to a new version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" (itself an old Celtic folk song), along with some more contemporary selections.

Interviewed by telephone from her apartment in London, Brightman commented on how she developed the new album, called "La Luna" — which is also the theme for her latest tour.

"I've always been fascinated by the subject of the moon, and so much music and poetry has been written about the moon, it was something I wanted to use as a theme for the album," she said. "Also, visually, it's a wonderful thing to be used in the concerts as well."

Considered a major "crossover" artist (a term she doesn't care for), Brightman's album crosses over into several styles and languages as well, with some lyrics sung in Latin and Russian.

Is she fluent in all the languages used in the recording studio and in her live performances?

"I would say that I'm a jack of all languages and a master of none, including my own," she commented.

With touring taking up more of her time, Brightman has turned more of the studio production work over to her boyfriend/producer Frank Peterson. "We used to coproduce everything, but with my touring and the demands of promotion, I can't be so involved with the technical things, so I've let him take over a lot of those things. People want to see you live in concert, and when you go on tour, you have to let some other things go."

Although her roots are in Great Britain, Brightman's schedule keeps her hopping all over the European continent. "My family home is in Spain, but I have an apartment in Milan, where I do most of my vocal training and coaching, plus an apartment in London, because that's where my roots are, and my boyfriend lives in Germany. But it's not as bad as it sounds, because everything is only about an hour from each other."

Brightman said her "La Luna" concert will be much different from her last performance in at the Delta Center, which focused on the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, her ex-husband. "This show looks very extravagant but is also very simple in the use of lighting to create an atmosphere of mystical skyscapes. There's a visual look for the music."

She has two similar touring productions — one for large arenas, like the Delta Center, and a slightly scaled-down version for proscenium theaters. Her stops on the current tour, running from March 3-April 4, range from the Aladdin Theater in Las Vegas and the ornate Fox Theatre in St. Louis to Radio City Music Hall and an array of sports arenas. "Some people who've seen both said they prefer the theaters, because they're closer to the show.

"But this is very different from the Andrew Lloyd Webber days, when I basically just stood in front of an orchestra and presented a conservative type concert. This is another thing altogether."

Brightman's touring orchestra will be augmented by several locally recruited musicians.

And while much of the material will be from her latest recording, including an English language version of Jean-Jacques Goldman's "He Doesn't See Me" and the Spanish "Hijo de la Luna," in a recent Los Angeles concert, she also dipped into more familiar Broadway territory, including signature pieces from "Phantom of the Opera" and Lloyd Webber's classically oriented "Requiem."

Brightman's next projects include more tour dates, including Asia and Europe, then another album and . . . another tour. "But my musical theater days are over. I've done that."

These days, she feels more at home in the recording studio.

"There is a much broader spectrum of material to choose from," she said, "especially if you're an interpreter of music. Also, in the future, when I have some free time from touring, I'm desperate to write more, because then it becomes more personal."

When she looks for new material, Brightman looks at a combination of the lyrics and the music. But, just as with "La Luna," she also likes to give herself some parameters. "I give myself themes and barriers. With this particular album, I needed very mystical sounding music, but songs that still have a beat and an edge to them. The songs have to suit you and they have to mean something to you."

For recording, Brightman prefers using English orchestras. "They're probably the quickest sight-readers in the world — and they're also probably the most expensive in the world, but there's a reason, because you get things done in about half the time."

The photography for "La Luna" looks like it may have been shot at Craters of the Moon in Idaho, but Brightman said she was photographed on a small island off the west coast of Africa, where there are outcroppings of volcanic lava rock.

TICKETS for the concert, ranging from $45 to $65, are available from all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Delta Center box office, all Utah Fred Meyer locations and Graywhale CD stores. Tickets may also be purchased online at (www.ticketmaster.com) or by calling the Delta Center at 325-SEAT (7328).


E-MAIL: ivan@desnews.com