Sarah Brightman wants to go into space but first she's going across Canada this fall.
The 53-year-old British classical crossover star - and ex-wife of theatrical kingpin Andrew Lloyd Webber - is touring Canadian arenas in support of her latest album, Dreamchaser, whose title seems appropriate given her lofty ambitions.
She intends to be part of a three-person crew on a future mission launching from Russia - tentatively 2015 - to the International Space Station in partnership with Space Adventures, a private space experience company.
"It's a life-long thing," says Brightman. "I think probably it's growing up through the '60s and actually watching as it was happening, the first man land on the moon on black and white TV screens.... I think that we felt subliminally we were going to be part of that. ...Often kids in my school would say, 'Well, you know, I'm going to be an astronaut.'"
We caught up with the L.A.-based Brightman recently.
Q. The Dreamchaser album photo is your silhouette in front of the moon. Coincidence given your future space travel?
A. I'd always been working with the space aspect in my albums. And actually did an album called La Luna (in 2000) which was very successful. So when I go trhough my albums there is always an area in there that uses the space aspect, being a sound I used or a song I sang about or a little in between bit. And I did it in my tours a lot as well.
Q. Have you had any experience in space?
A. Quite a few years back I met someone, an American, who was actually in the aerospace business. And it was a relief to talk to someone about rockets and space and my interest in it. And he said, 'You know it is becoming a reality. There's a sub-orbital flight that you can take. And I can connect you with the Virgin Galactic people who are in London anyway.' I was in London at the time. So I went and met them and booked myself on early on. You're only up sub-orbitally for a few minutes.
Q. It's a large jump from sub-orbital to outerspace yes?
A. I met a lot of people (in the field) and at some point was asked if I'd be interested for a deeper experience. At first I said, 'No, I don't dabble in things.' It's not like packing an over night case. it's a huge amount of medicals and training and I said, 'First of all. I don't know if I've got the time to do something like that. I'm an artist.' But then I was asked a second time and I felt psychologically ready to at least start the medical, start training, see how I would fare. And I passed through everything really well. Both in Houston and some in London and some in Russia.
Q. Do you have a new husband or children who will be worried about you?
A. I date a little bit and I have two really sweet miniature dachshunds - one is called LEO, but it's Lower Earth Orbit, and the little girl is called Georgie.
Q. And will they do with your long hair in space?
A. From what I've seen the females have put their hair in buns and plaits. The trouble with plaits is they tend to lift so you look like Pippi Longstocking.
Q. One of the most interesting things about Dreamchaser, which saw you work with rock producer Mike Hedges (U2) is your choice of covers by the like of British rock bands Elbow (On A Day Like This) and Wings (Venus and Mars) to more avante garde outfits like Iceland's Sigur Ros (Glósóli) and Scotland's Cocteau Twins (Eperdu).
A. The song choices fitted. I mean a lot of these songs I've know before and ... There are some which are very playful, like the Eperdu piece, Cocteau Twins piece is very playful, the Paul McCartney one, Venus and Mars is very playful. I wanted to pick a few playful pieces and work with them but generally the album has quite an expansive feel about it.
Select Canadian tour dates:
Sept. 14 - Ottawa, Scotiabank Place
Sept. 15 - Toronto, Air Canada Centre
Oct. 19 - Winnipeg, MTS Centre
Oct. 21 - Calgary, Scotiabank Saddledome
Oct. 21 - Edmonton, Rexall Place