All-rounder prepares to go global

For over a decade now, Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis has juggled two careers, a classical one abroad, and, more recently, its contemporary-inclined alternative at home. But an international album set for release this September, Frangoulis’s first, on the Sony Classical label, which signed the artist three years ago, may well bridge the differences and launch Frangoulis as a truly international act. The album’s material, which features songs mostly from the Mediterranean basin, both new and reworked older numbers, will be unveiled on Saturday, before a domestic audience at the capital’s Lycabettus Theater. A second Greek show, to be filmed for a US screening, will follow at the Gis Theater in Thessaloniki on July 9. «Being able to adapt is the main issue. I have been able to separate the two careers at home and abroad. They have different demands,» the 35-year-old Frangoulis, who was born in the former Rhodesia, nowadays Zimbabwe, and raised in Greece, noted in an interview. «Needless to say, to communicate to a bigger audience in Greece, my homeland, language is the top priority,» he added. Frangoulis spent the greater part of the previous decade living and working abroad – mostly in operas and musicals – at plush European venues. Since completing extensive musical training at leading schools such as the Verdi Academy, the Juilliard School in New York, and the UK’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Frangoulis has performed impressive roles. Highlights include the leading role of Marius in «Les Miserables» at London’s Palace Theater; another leading role in «Phantom of the Opera» at Her Majesty’s Theater in London; performances alongside opera artists such as Montserrat Caballe and Kraus, one of his tutors; and concerts with respected orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Since his return to Greece in 1997, Frangoulis’s endeavors have landed him roles in high-caliber productions of ancient Greek dramas, musicals – including the leading role in a Greek-English version of «Grease» directed by its original London director David Gilmore – and concerts. Shows both as the featured artist and alongside top-selling contemporary local acts, such as Giorgos Dalaras, have helped familiarize the export-oriented Greek tenor with locals. Commercially, the response has been favorable. Two locally recorded live albums of Greek and foreign – classical and contemporary – material reached platinum status. Both were released locally by Sony Greece. Commenting on his career’s diversity, Frangoulis said he felt fortunate and comfortable about his position, while describing his multifaceted approach as a reflection of the modern age. «It gives me ample freedom to express myself. I’ve always had to adapt to various musical styles. In this profession, especially nowadays with such developed technology which affects the direction of a performer’s career, an artist must be prepared to face the profession’s challenges. The only way to do this is to be knowledgeable and studious, or what I would call a ‘Renaissance person,’ by which I mean someone who has studied, experienced and moved in all sorts of directions within the performing arts, and is more of an all-round artist,» Frangoulis said. Despite stressing the importance of education, he did not rule out its less disciplined opposite, passion. «If you were to ask me what I would rather do, be the perfect singer or a singer full of feeling and direct expression, I would choose the latter.»