Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960), depending on who you ask, is best known for one of three things: playing Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, being a classical crossover singer, or appearing in Repo! The Genetic Opera. This is a consequence of her reinventing herself enough times to rival Madonna (or perhaps David Bowie). A chronology:
The disco era. Yes, there was an era before Phantom. In her late teens, she and the British dance troupe Hot Gossip scored a hit with the song "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper," which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin and an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars and similar space films that came out during this time. She released many solo singles as well.
The Musical Theatre era. Long story short, she met Andrew Lloyd Webber when auditioning for his musical Cats, married him, and starred in a number of his musicals, most famously as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera — a part written specifically for her. Much tabloid attention was had.
The early solo era. Brightman and Webber eventually divorced — more tabloid attention was had — and she released several now-obscure, rather uneven solo albums such as "As I Came Of Age." All this pales in comparison to:
The Frank Peterson era. Around the early '90s, Brightman heard the work of Enigma, liked it a lot, and got in touch with one member of the group, Frank Peterson. He has been her producer ever since (and was her boyfriend for much of the decade.) Her albums since then include:
- Dive: Water-themed, unsurprisingly, and somewhat of a transition from the early solo era. Most fans consider it to be somewhat uneven.
- Fly: A rock/electronic album, the likes of which she has never recorded since. Also contains one of her first classical crossover singles, "A Question of Honor."
- Eden: Her first true "classical crossover" album.
- La Luna: Like Eden, but more ethereal. Moon-themed.
- Harem: Middle Eastern-themed and more influenced by electronic and dance music.
- Symphony: Classical crossover again.
- Dreamchaser: Space-themed (in celebration of her flight to the International Space Station in 2013). Time will tell as to what genre it falls under, but her first single, "Angel", seems to be classical crossover.
Provides examples of:
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Sarah Brightman is the reason why Christine is brunette in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, not blonde as in the book.
- Break-Up Song: "Free," "So Many Things"
- Christmas Songs: On A Winter Symphony, an entire album of them.
- Concept Album: Most of her earlier albums would qualify.
- Cover Version: She does a lot of them.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Many of her covers, but averted with Tu, originally by Mecano. In effect, she's singing it to a woman.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: Done quite memorably with "Once In A Lifetime" originally by Gregorian. Gregorian's version is a sweet love song about finding the one. Sarah's version is about a woman discovering a kinkier side of herself.
- Elegant Classical Musician
- Epic Rocking: Many of her songs, such as "A Question of Honor" and "Arabian Nights," are fairly long with several distinct sections. (In Arabian Nights, they're specifically delineated.)
- Greatest Hits Album: Several.
- Hotter and Sexier: "Once In A Lifetime" was rewritten from its original version by Frank Peterson's old project Gregorian. This was the effect.
- Intercourse with You: Surprisingly, a lot of it. Once in a Lifetime is probably the most blatant example.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: While in a relationship with George Peterson, she had an ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages. Ouch.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Once in a Lifetime."
- Mistaken for Cheating: "Hijo de la Luna." A gypsy woman makes a deal with the moon to find her a husband, as long as she agrees to give up her first-born child in return. The baby ends up as pale as the moon. Bad things happen.
- Mood Whiplash: "Once in a Lifetime" starts off as an upbeat, romantic song about finding what seems to be true love. Then toward the end the music slows and it suddenly becomes apparent that this was an abusive relationship from which the singer has finally freed herself:Giving you my soul, letting you controlTook away a part of my lifetimeMemories of you left me black and blueNow I know you're once in a lifetime
- Murder Ballad: "Hijo de la Luna" counts as one, and so does "Murder in Mairyland Park", but her folk-ballad album The Trees They Grow So High is unusual for NOT containing these.
- The Muse: To Andrew Lloyd Webber, arguably to Frank Peterson.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: Though quite successful elsewhere, Sarah is not very well-liked in her native Britain. Many still see her as the ex-Hot Gossip dancer that Andrew Lloyd Webber made a star and left his first wife to marry. It is likely for this reason that Sarah rarely tours there, much to the dismay of the British fans she does have.
- New Sound Album: At least three times in her career.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Many of her costumes.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: At the end of "Murder in Mairyland Park".
- Phrase Salad Lyrics: "The Fly"I know a colourful roomWhere we can flyAnd take a spin to the moonOn Aunt Angelica's pieI am a fly, pie in the skyAcross a harvest of stars and constellationsWe'll drink a starjuice on MarsMiss our connection and cryCoz I don't know whyI am a flyThe major is deadIt went to his headWe gonna fly
- Pimped-Out Dress: Her concerts are famous for these. Just one glorious example.◊
- Posthumous Collaboration:
- "Mysterious Days", on the Harem album, features vocals from the late Ofra Haza.
- She did a duet of "Hawaii '78" with the recorded voice of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. This song was released as a bonus track on certain editions of Dreamchaser.
- Rock Me, Amadeus!: There are plenty of examples of this in her repertoire. One of the most notable is "A Question of Honour", which features portions of "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" from La Wally.
- Sampling: An interesting variation; a lot of her early work contains samples from songs off "Sadisfaction," an earlier Frank Peterson album.
- Shout-Out: Over half the lyrics of "I Loved You"; a few in "As I Came Of Age". Nearly all of the lyrics in "I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper" consist of references to many different Sci-Fi and Space Opera works.
- Soprano and Gravel: Most of her non-classical duets end up like this, particularly anything involving Chris Thompson.
- Spoken Word in Music: "I Loved You" samples a Ronald Reagan speech.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: A rendition of the Trope Namer ballad is on her album "The Trees They Grow So High."
- To the Tune of...: "Running" is set to Holst's "Jupiter". "Figlio Perduto" is set to Beethoven. "Schwere Traume" is set to Mahler. It's a crapshoot whether these are credited or not. It's also been noted that "On the Nile" bears a striking similarity to "My Own Home", from the soundtrack to Disney's The Jungle Book (1967) of all things.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Several songs — "The War Is Over" for one.