On Saturday night, Sarah Brightman and a respectable group of supporting musicians performed at the Honda Center. This stop in Anaheim was part of Brightman’s Hymn tour, which began in São Paulo, Brazil, after the album’s release in early November. The pop / classical diva’s appearance had summoned a decently-sized crowd at the venue — a crowd which included many fans who’d been following Brightman’s career since she starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical of The Phantom of the Opera.
Brightman’s newest album continues the diva’s trend of fusing classical and pop music, and the show, itself, was comprised of a cross-section of material from the album as well as highlights from her oeuvre. As for the spectacle, the stage was covered with prop organ pipes, which conjured a slightly churchy feeling — no doubt the image was meant as an extension of the religious theme of the album’s title song — but they also struck this reporter as a nod to the singer’s distinct [vocal] pipes.
Throughout the show, the stage and the pipes were lit creatively for the various songs — to the point where the tips of the pipes were illuminated to make them look like gigantic candles. Brightman, herself, changed outfits frequently throughout the show; one of the highlights being a flowing white gown, which she used to great effect to disappear in and mimic the slow movement of the walls of fog that were churned out of the fog machines and, ultimately, enveloping the first several rows of audience members. For that particular number, Brightman was singing her arrangement of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever,” which was particularly well-recieved given the recent popularity of the Freddie Mercury bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Flanked by a very impressive collection of choral, orchestral, and band musicians, it is difficult to select highlights of the virtuoso performer’s hybrid classical / pop show, although recognition must be given to her outstanding guest vocalists, Vincent Niclo and Narcis Iustin Ianău — each of whom performed a solo number after appearing onstage to support Brightman, and each of whom continued to sing duets with her throughout the evening.
Among the greatest crowdpleasers of the roughly two and a half hour show were: “Stranger in Paradise,” “Anytime, Anywhere,” “Miracle,” “Sogni,” “Pie Jesu,” “Running,” and, of course, “The Phantom of the Opera.” Brightman finished off the show with a three-song encore, consisting of “Deliver Me,” “Ave Maria,” and “A Question of Honour.” It is gratifying to experience a singer of Brightman’s caliber, who has been surrounded by a first class theatrical experience for several decades and who still has the ability to make jaws drop with her incredible vocal range.