NEW YORK – On April 11, Hungarian violinist Zoltan Maga returns to New York for a concert at Carnegie Hall, with special guests the internationally acclaimed artists, violinist Shlomo Mintz, singer Shelea, and Marios Frangoulis as special guests.
At the press conference on April 9, presented at the Greek Press and Communications Office, The National Herald met with the renowned tenor Frangoulis.
When asked about his collaboration and upcoming concert with Zoltan Maga, he told TNH, “For Hungary, Zoltan Maga is a national hero. He is a classically-trained musician and we will perform a concert where I am one of his guests. Of course, I could not miss the maestro Shlomo Mintz, who is one of the most important violinists in the world. He has performed with Claudio Abbado but has also recorded with Deutsche Grammophon. We try through the music, to unite our worlds, to make our own mark. At the same time, I have the opportunity to realize a dream, to perform at this historic New York theater (Carnegie Hall). The program is mostly classic, we will perform Liszt, Brahms, Beethoven, and some operetta, such as Franz Lehar’s The Land of Smiles. We will also sing songs by Agustin Lara and Francesco Paolo Tosti. It is a very important moment for me, but also a deposit on my more classical side.”
Frangoulis, who started his musical studies from childhood, moved to London in 1985, where he studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After a successful audition, he was offered the role of Marius in the West End’s Les Miserables, directed by Trevor Nunn. Later, after winning the Maria Callas Scholarship, he moved to Italy to study classical singing. In the early 1990s, Frangoulis moved to New York to study at the renowned Juilliard School of Music, under the guidance of his mentor, Marilyn Horne, with whom, as he told us, he has an excellent relationship and continues to consult.
When asked about his love for classical music, Frangoulis told TNH, “I was born in Africa, in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) in a difficult time, when apartheid started. There, all the families of the Greeks were very united. After various personal family difficulties, when my parents sent me back to Greece, I studied violin at the Athens Conservatory, where the director of the Conservatory was Menelaos Palandios, a great musician, composer, and academic, who bestowed his love for music.”
Of his long journey in music and the most pivotal moments in his career, he said, “I was a very lucky child. I had, you see, my adoptive parents, essentially, my mother’s sister raised me in Greece with her husband. Despite the difficulties in Greece at that time, due to the dictatorship, they gave me the hope of creating something new, more stable, and beautiful. Music became a means for me to bring people closer. As for pivotal moments, I could mention amongst others La Scala in Milan, playing Tony in West Side Story directed by Jerome Robbins, the role of Marius in Les Miserables, and more generally collaborations and roles that have enabled me to communicate a message of love, unity, friendship. How, even in our most difficult moments, love, enables us to move forward and look at the future.”
When asked about the many artists from Greece who want to establish an international career and the necessary “ingredients” needed to achieve international recognition, Frangoulis said, “Study. There must, of course, be talent and some luck. Though I think, finally, that there is nothing at random in our work. In the space I’m moving, classical music, musicals and theater, it takes hard work and study. I believe in education and dedication. It is a lonely road and not easy. What the world sees at the end is a small example of the preparation that is involved. Studying never ends.”
Asked if he would like to become involved with politics, Frangoulis replied, “I do not think so. I do not consider myself a political person. Through art, I can be more balanced and efficient. I do not like the constraints of politics.”
About his latest album, he said, “It is called Galazia Limni- Turquoise Waters, and was released on February 12. We hope it travels all over the world. Lina Nikolakopoulou was the artistic director, and Aris Davarakis, Daphne Alexandri, Kaiti Panayotopoulos, beloved composers as well as lyricists.”
An accomplished artist, Frangoulis continues to plan and dream of accomplishing more in the future. He told TNH, “I am and will always be a forever student. There is much I dream of for the future and my mind is open to all directions. I’m preparing a recording with a very great maestro in America, for which I cannot yet provide more information. At the same time, there is my love for Greece and Greek music. I am trying to submit a project, in relation to Greece, but at an international level. I have promised that when I return to Greece, I will not be a foreign product. First of all, I want to be a Greek who has accomplished many things around the world, but always returns to his base.”
When asked which is his favorite, classical music, classical theater, musicals, Frangoulis replied, “I love them all. I do not want to say that I can do it all. I have, of course, performed concerts with Angela Gheorghiu and there is also my collaboration with Monserrat Caballe and Samuel Ramey. But my course, and the way it evolved when I signed the contract with Sony Classical and Peter Gelb – now director of the Metropolitan Opera- at least for recording, the company’s goal was to identify me in a classical crossover space. The first artists who opened this street were Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, and then me, third in the row.
Asked if he could choose one of his songs as the title for his life and career, Frangoulis said, “The song by Manos Hadjidakis, Hartino to Feggaraki (Paper Moon), which is the first Greek song I ever sang. I sang it from the age of six. It is a pure nostalgic song, with a sweet melancholy and underlines my belief that if we believe in the purest part of ourselves, we can do everything.”
The Hungarian violinist Zoltan Maga’s concert with Mario Frangoulis as a special guest takes place Thursday, April 11, at 8 PM.
Tickets are available on the Carnegie Hall website: www.carnegiehall.org.