CULTURE

Mario Frangoulis: A natural-born performer

Born in Africa, Mario Frangoulis was raised in Athens. A natural-born performer, he took to the stage at a tender age – schoolmates still remember his memorable performances in musicals such as «West Side Story» – before entering the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied drama. In 1988, Frangoulis was awarded the Maria Callas Scholarship for opera and was offered the part of Marius in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of «Les Miserables» at the Palace Theater in London. Two years later he moved to Italy to pursue the opera road and study next to Carlo Bergonzi. In 1991, he returned to London, to interpret Raoul in «The Phantom of the Opera,» in a production directed by Harold Prince at the Her Majesty’s Theater. At the same time he continued his opera studies next to the legendary Alfredo Kraus. The following year Frangoulis was off to New York and the Julliard School, while also making a series of concert appearances. In 1993, he was one of the winners of the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition in Philadelphia. In 1998, Sony Classical signed Frangoulis as an exclusive artist. Opera, musicals or ancient drama? Frangoulis has done it all. In the last few years alone, the artist has appeared in popular «Grease,» Kurt Weill’s musical drama «Happy End,» Aristophanes’ «Birds,» Euripides’ «Bacchae,» and as Tony in an operatic version of «West Side Story» at La Scala in Milan, among other engagements. Following next week’s concert, the artist will resume rehearsals for his appearance in Aeschylus’ «Achilles» trilogy. A production of Cyprus’s National Theater Company, the play focuses on events during the Trojan War and was restored by theater expert Ilias Malandris. The trilogy will be performed in Epidaurus on August 6 and 7 as part of this year’s Hellenic Festival. Does Frangoulis feel free as an artist? «Certainly in my country, in Greece and Cyprus. I feel free in the sense that I have worked very hard to get to this point. I have done lots of concerts, lots of performances, theater plays, numerous concepts that I shared with my public and therefore today I do have a choice because the audience has given me the gift, the gift of getting myself recognized for my work, and therefore I am very privileged to be able to be in a position where I can choose what my next step is,» he said. «Of course always bearing in mind that it’s the audience that made me, that gave me this position and therefore not wanting to fail my audience, I have promised them that I will always bring something new, I will always make sure that I have something exciting for them to look forward to.»