Tenor Mario Frangoulis Finds His Niche
Recently at the last minute a colleague had to sub for another reviewer at a concert for an artist he knew nothing about. He went without knowing what to expect from tenor Mario Frangoulis, only to be most pleasantly surprised.
"I was treated to one of the more enjoyable concerts I’d attended in a long time," EDGE’s Brian Callaghan wrote, "...He has a terrific voice, and looking like a Greek god doesn’t hurt either. His stage persona is that of a gracious, shy and excited performer who is genuinely pleased to be singing before an audience."
Frangoulis, though, is no newbie to show business, having been performing professionally for 20 years either in musicals, concerts or on records. He is presently appearing with soprano Sarah Brightman on her latest concert tour, which is currently on a swing through Canada before arriving on the West Coast.
The handsome, 42 year old tenor no doubt turns heads when he’s not onstage; but it’s his voice - a resonant tenor - that has made him an international music star. Like his colleagues Andrea Bocelli and Josh Grobin, he’s found a niche in the increasingly popular Classical Crossover genre. His CDs - "Sometimes I Dream" and "Follow Your Heart" have been international best-sellers; and his concert appearances have grown in size and stature.
EDGE spoke to Frangoulis when he was on the East Coast leg of the tour immediately after the Brightman concert took a critical drumming in Boston. (In fact, one local reviewer confused him with another tenor.) No matter, for the singer such notices are only par for the course.
Finding New Fans
EDGE: How did the Boston concert go?
Mario Frangoulis: Very well. We had a great audience reaction. I’m not sure the reviews were all that good - whatever, because we heard some mixed things. But you always do in these shows. We have a lot of variety in the show for a lot of different tastes. It depends on what the audience likes to hear and what we like to sing. I love this kind of spectacle, so I don’t agree with every thing that was said. I like the show very much and like Sarah Brightman. She’s a great colleague. And I thought we sang very well together and had a fantastic audience reaction. But I’m not the one to ask really.
EDGE: Do you regularly read reviews?
Mario Frangoulis: I do read reviews, but don’t often pay attention to them. In general, there are factors that blur the opinion: whether someone is for or against a certain type of spectacle or not, or has pre-conceived ideas of what to expect. But I do read them.
EDGE: What about those in the audience who don’t know what to expect because they’ve never seen you before and become a fan?
Mario Frangoulis: It’s wonderful. No artist should ever take it for granted that he’s known. It’s always good to be discovered by those who have never heard you. I had some people come to Madison Square Garden recently and say that they didn’t realize I had done so many things in my career because they had never heard of me. Performing with Sarah is a great opportunity for me, but it is also very taxing, you know - a lot of high notes and a lot of sustaining phrases; but I think it creates some sort of bridge between myself and people who have never heard of me. It’s a good thing - music can bring people together.
EDGE: You have done a lot in your career. You’ve trained in London (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and New York (Julliard School of Music), appeared in London’s West End (’Les Miserables’ and ’Phantom of the Opera’) and La Scala (Tony in ’West Side Story.’) And this was before you became a recording artist with an eclectic mix of musical choices. In fact, your musical interests are all over the place, but in a good way - how did this happen?
Mario Frangoulis: I use to listen to everything when I was a kid. I loved the idea of leaving Greece to study theater and to get into Hollywood movies and to sing on the world stage like Frank Sinatra or Liza Minnelli or Edith Piaf. How do I do that? First of all, I realized I had to study. I had to listen to a lot of things and, at one point, had to decide on what I wanted to do. And I just couldn’t, ever 100% decide as to exactly as to what genre I should pursue. This is why my recording career is mostly classical crossover music like ’Sometimes I Dream’ and ’Follow Your Heart.’ I’ve had the operatic training, but don’t sing opera. What I do is more like Andrea Bocelli or Josh Grobin - this genre of music. And it has been very successful for me.
I guess my vision is always to sing good songs, not silly songs. I love good lyrics coupled with great melodies; if that makes me slightly old-fashioned then I’m old fashioned. I love young people and I love young composers. I am working on a new album with is in the same genre of classical crossover music, but I hope will have more appeal to a younger audience and a broader audience. There are a lot of English lyrics - Don Black has written some amazing lyrics for me. And I hope to continue to work with Lara Fabian, who is a wonderful Canadian/Belgian soprano pop singer.