CULTURE

A natural-born singer for the ACS

As part of its ongoing efforts to raise funds for the construction of the American-Hellenic Arts Center of Halandri, the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS) have enlisted the support of young Welsh soprano Charlotte Church. The 15-year-old singing sensation will appear next Monday, October 29, at the Athens Concert Hall. A highly ambitious project, the arts center to be built in Halandri will feature 600 to 800 seats and while it will serve the educational needs of the establishment’s students, it will also cater to the community in general, hosting professional musical and theater performances, as well as conferences, seminars and exhibitions. Furthermore, it will be available for events related to the 2004 Olympics. Born in Llandaf, Cardiff, the talented Miss Church’s penchant for singing was evident from a very young age. Though she had already begun entering local karaoke competitions, the defining moment came at the age of 11, when Church performed Pie Jesu on the television show, Talking Telephone Numbers. Following this performance, Sony Music UK offered the young singer a record deal. The soprano’s first album, Voice of an Angel, sold 600,000 copies in Britain alone, reaching double platinum status. At the same time, Church was concentrating on developing a body of live performances with concerts at the London Palladium, the Royal Albert Hall and the Cardiff Arms Park, among other venues. During this period, Church crossed the Atlantic and caused a media frenzy with appearances on Dave Letterman’s Late Show and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, among other prominent interviews, while in 2000, she was named one of Billboard’s Top 10 best-selling female vocalists in the United States. Meanwhile, on the recording front, the Voice of an Angel album was followed by Charlotte Church and Dream a Dream. Church’s sole Athens concert coincides with the release of her most recent album, Enchantment, which was recorded in Los Angeles, featuring pieces from both the lyrical and more popular styles. Reflecting the gamut of Church’s interests and abilities, the album includes fine tunes, such as Tonight from West Side Story, Papa Can You Hear Me? from Yentl, as well as Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen, The Flower Duet from Delibes’s Lakme and even From My First Moment, a song inspired by Eric Satie’s Gymnopedie No 1. At the Athens Concert Hall, Church will proffer tunes from this album and will be accompanied by the National ERT Symphony Orchestra and a choir, conducted by Arnie Roth and Andreas Pylarinos. It’s not always easy to be an internationally known child prodigy. In 1999, Church received two invitations to sing at New Year’s events, for the pope and then US President Bill Clinton. She declined both exciting offers in order to spend the happy holiday with her family. One day, however, she plans to fulfill her own, private ambition. Church’s most cherished dream is to star in her favorite opera, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, in Milan’s La Scala Theater to a standing ovation. Destination by the highly sagacious and provocative Bernhard poses the same questions as Heimonas. It is being staged using Petros Markaris’s translation with costumes by Damianos Zarifis, music by Iakovos Drosou and lighting by Sakis Birbilis. The play’s three characters, an art-loving lady (played by Lyberopoulou), her art-loving daughter (played by Antigone Pantazi) and a playwright (Alexis Saripanides), when talking of what is art, theater, success, are in essence speaking about mankind and the world, about our lives today.