NEW YORK – Mario Frangoulis launched his latest North American tour with an eclectic concert in multiple languages that delighted his fans at the Rose Theater of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
The international tenor performed with a fine 8-piece orchestra and was joined by British recording artist and songwriter Alexandra Burke, who flew in from London for her special appearance, and Greek tenor George Perris.
The concert began with an instrumental piece and the audience in the modernistic horseshoe-shaped auditorium people greeted black-clad Frangloulis’ appearance with a burst of applause.
He welcomed the audience and told them “I’m so happy to be here…especially for the reason we are all here tonight, to support Apostoli and the families that have been struck,’ by the Greek economic crisis.” Apostoli is the social service arm of the Church of Greece and 40 percent of the proceeds will be donated to them
“Thanks to your support,” he continued, “we have managed to raise a lot of money for them and for New Yorkers for Children. As you know I was born in Africa and I was separated from my family at the age of four, and I have a strong connection to those to causes.
and he opened with “Un Passo Verso Te – A Step Towards You.”
Songs followed in Spanish, Italian, Greek and English, including, Follow Your Heart, I Believe in You, Beautiful Things and Something’s Coming from West Side Story, which he performed in the renowned La Scala opera house.
The background lighting turned turquoise when he performed Nights in White Satin in Greek and English
Frangoulis’ interpretations were enhanced by his acting ability. He studied drama in London, where he learned skills that differentiate him from other singers. He began on stage playing Marius, the romantic lead in Les Miserables in London, and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”
He thrilled his fans with rich resonant lows complemented by ringing high notes and audience members who were seeing him for the first time were delighted with his banter and the appreciation he continually expressed for his fellow performers.
The instrumental “Los Pajaros Perdidos – The Lost Birds” with its exhilarating rhythms and spectacular ending featured a thrilling turn by violinist Marisa Licata.
Frangoulis excels in the romance languages and Libertango was one of a number of songs with a latin beat – a dramatic tango with a soft ending
He pleasantly surprised the Greeks in the audience when he added to the Greek songs he presented “Theos an einai” which he sang with Alkistis Protopsalti during their 2012 concert in Queens.
Perris also welcomed and thanked the audience. He said “singing for children is the most sacred task. They are the future…if you don’t help them there is no future.”
He picked up on Frangoulis sense of humor. Before they performed a duet he asked “do you mind if I drink some of your water and then raised the bottle and exclaimed “stin igia mas – cheers” to the large crowd in the orchestra and balconies.
The evening’s most touching moment came when Frangoulis paid tribute to Andreas Panagopoulos, the Greek musician who died in the recent gas explosion in Harlem. He dedicated a song he composed which has lyrics by Paraskevas Karasoulos, “Ton Eafto Mou Paidi,” about the child within all of us.
The first half of the program concluded with Frangoulis’ best known song, “Vincero, Perdero – I Will Win, I Will Lose” and “Luna Rosa – The Red Moon.”
After the intermission Burke the moving “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen
During his bantering with the audience he said that one of the best things about his career is that “you get to meet extraordinary people who inspire you and influence your life,” including opera singers Marilyn Horne and Vittorio Grigolo, who is currently performing in La Boheme at the Met. Both of whom wer in attendance and were acknowledged by Frangoulis.
The passionate performer’s tributes continued with his praise of composer Manos Hadjidakis. “I’m proud to call myself Greek and he is one of the reasons why.”
At the conclusion of the concert Frangouli turned his formal introduction of his colleagues into a fun musical moment when he gave them shout outs while they played, accompanied by the rhythmic applause of the audience.
The musicians included: Marisa Licata, violin, Kathleen Boyd, flute, Zac Zinger, saxophone and clarinet, Daniel Rowe, cello, Thomas Kontogeorgis, piano, Angelos Matsopoulos, guitar, Alex Trampas, contra bass and electic bass, and Panagiotis Liaropopulos, who was also the music director, on keyboards.
The encores created an opportunity for him Frangoulis to sing some Mikis Theodorakis: Strose to Stroma sou gia dio – Set Your Mattress for Two” before he was joined onstage by Burke and xxxxx for a final farewell.
He was presented flowers by the daughter of Andrea Stassou, who heads marketing and promotion for the tour. After some coaxing by Frangoulis, six year-old Katerina Dokas, told the audience “I am happy to be here to help the children.” Her eight year-old brother Peter Dokas needed no prompting: “Thank you for coming!”
Frangoulis’ tour continues in San Francisco on April 4 and Chicago on April 7.
Get Andrea Stassou title.