New York.- Following up his exuberant Sony Classical debut album ‘Sometimes I Dream’, Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis looks inward for his latest recording ‘Follow Your Heart’, blending his sensuous tenor voice with an all-new, soulful collection of smooth pop ballads and classically flavored songs.
Follow Your Heart to be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, February 1, 2005, will be followed by a US tour of Mario Frangoulis. Mario will perform at the Carnegie Hall in New York City on May 6th. Tomorrow (Monday, January 31st) at 3 pm he is scheduled to meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America.
Frangoulis himself planned the repertoire and defined the concept for ‘Follow Your Heart’, which explores a Latin flavor and relaxed warmth that represents a bit of a departure from the intensity of ‘Sometimes I Dream’. The tenor calls ‘Follow Your Heart’ “a very personal album that I hope reflects my most profound feelings about life putting across my views about friendship and love, family and patriotism.”
Most of the tracks on Follow Your Heart were produced (and several written) by Emanuele Ruffinengo – internationally known for his Grammy-winning work with singer Alejandro Sanz – and the album reunites Frangoulis with executive producer Steve Wood, who produced three tracks on the new album and was at the helm of ‘Sometimes I Dream’. Frangoulis sings in multiple languages on ‘Follow Your Heart’, with most of the songs in English but also including tracks in Greek, Italian and Spanish.
The album’s opening track ‘Here’s to the Heroes’ – a new song, with lyrics by Don Black and also set to the main theme from John Barry’s Oscar-winning score for ‘Dances With Wolves’ – is a tribute to the athletes competing in the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
Two tracks on Follow Your Heart have a classical pedigree – “Another World” is adapted from the popular chorus “Va! Pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco, and “Adagio” is taken from the slow movement of the famous Oboe Concerto of Italian Baroque composer Alessandro Marcello. Another track – “Come What May” – comes from the soundtrack of the hit 2001 film Moulin Rouge. The song titles describe the album’s soulful, contemplative mood – from the title track to “Bridge of Dreams,” “Another World” and “Benedictus.” They also include a duet – “Cϊmme” – with the young Spanish singer Melody.
Latin pop sensation Alejandro Fernandez makes a guest appearance on the album, joining Frangoulis in the song “Hay Mas.” Sometimes I Dream continues on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart, where it has remained for almost 90 consecutive weeks. Though that album introduced Frangoulis to an international audience, he is already a multi-platinum recording artist in his native Greece.
WHO IS MARIO
Born in 1967 in the African nation of Zimbabwe – then called Rhodesia – Mario was sent to Athens at the age of four to be raised by his aunt, a decision which stemmed from the volatile political situation in his birth country. Growing up in Greece the youngster would sing along to tunes on his record player, with boyhood tastes ranging from traditional Greek vocalists to Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. As he matured, he says: “I knew I had a good voice, but I didn’t know I had an operatic voice.”
He began studying violin and, when he was 17, attended London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There he became active on the musical theatre scene, eventually landing a handful of roles in the West End.
Hello Magazine, in a feature story on Mario Frangoulis writes:
It was during this stint treading the boards that a friend of his, a soprano, asked him to perform a few bars with her as she practiced.
“We sang together,” he remembers, “and she told me I was a pure tenor and had to study opera.” He wasn’t convinced, though, believing opera “was an art that held no interest today”.
“The truth is, I didn’t like opera… I snubbed opera singers,” he acknowledges. “I thought they just made a big noise and wanted to create high notes.” Willing to try his hand at the genre, however, he learned three arias and went on, in 1993, to win the Maria Callas Prize, an international opera competition. This achievement was followed by a scholarship to New York’s famed Julliard School of Music.
At first the accomplished singer resisted attempts to define his sound as operatic. “I had always felt I didn’t belong in that category,” he says. “I wanted to communicate the music, and I didn’t think opera singers sounded young enough.”
Then came a turning point. After seeing a contemporary stage performance of La Boheme directed by innovative Moulin Rouge filmmaker Baz Luhrman, Mario underwent a sea change of opinion. “That show made me realise there is hope of bringing opera to people my own age,” he says. “And that the way to do it is through the purity of the music.” Hence Mario’s repertoire includes such popular modern tracks as The Rose and Imagine as well classic arias sung in Italian, Greek, Spanish and English. “I’m a classical opera singer with pop appeal,” he says.
Along with his good looks – on the eve of the release of Sometimes I Dream he was featured in a fashion piece for the New York Times – it has proved a winning combination and helped make the Athens-based singer something of an operatic heart-throb. “I’m not putting myself across as this major opera star,” he says. “I’m just being Mario, a simple guy who does good music.”
Mario will be on tour with Jim Brickman starting in February! Here are the confirmed dates so far:
Thursday, Feb 3
GRAND RAPIDS, MI
DeVos Performance Hall
Friday, February 4
The Theater at the Dow Events Center
303 Johnson Street
DES MOINES, IA
Thursday, Feb. 10
Des Moines Civic Center Theatre
221 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA
Saturday, February 12
144 East Wells Street
Monday, February 14
The Orpheum Theater
409 S. 16th Street
Friday, Feb 25
Alberta Bair Theater
2801 Third Ave. N.
Friday, March 4
Saturday, March 5
Roanoke Civic Center
New York City
Friday, May 6