After a stellar career ranging from the disco hit "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" to global success in "Phantom of the Opera", British soprano Sarah Brightman is preparing for a unique performance: a live concert from space.
Brightman, 54, will be the eighth space tourist, and first professional singer, traveling as one of a three-person team to the International Space Station in a Soyuz space rocket that will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 1. She will spend 10 days orbiting the Earth.
"I cannot explain in full why this is something that has been very strong within me," Brightman said on Tuesday at a press launch event for her trip. "I am incredibly excited and as I have said, sometimes overwhelmed, but I am finding all sorts of things about myself."
She was inspired to travel into space when she watched the first moon landing on television in 1969 and says she has nurtured the ambition ever since.
Brightman is reported by British media to have paid 35 million pounds ($53 million) for the trip. She said that for contractual reasons she could not reveal the amount.
The singer was assessed for suitability for the trip at Star City outside Moscow in July 2012, and since then has undergone a grueling training regime.
She plans to perform a song from the space station, accompanied by an orchestra back on Earth, but has not yet selected the tune. She has been working with ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer of multiple hit musicals including "Phantom of the Opera" which made Brightman a global star.
"I'm trying to find a piece which is beautiful and simple in its message, as well as not too complicated to sing," she said. "Because of the complexities of this I don't want to promise too much," she added.
"Sweating in Costumes"
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded songs during his time in space, including a rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" that was viewed by millions on Earth, but Brightman will be the first professional musician to record in space.
"I found many parallels between the training I'm doing and what I've been doing as a performer," Brightman said. "When you're a performer you're travelling around for years, going to different venues, different countries ... You have to make fast decisions, you have to think on your feet, you're often sweating in costumes."
An oddity in the musical landscape, Brightman first rose to fame in 1978 as a member of the dance troupe Hot Gossip with the hit "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper."
In the 1980s, Brightman appeared in "Cats," the popular musical by Lloyd Webber, whom she went on to marry. Her career reached starry heights when she premiered the lead female role in "Phantom," a record-breaking box office hit.
Brightman and Lloyd Webber divorced years later and she embarked on a solo career. Often described as a crossover artist, she has performed with opera stars including Jose Carreras and Andrea Bocelli.
Brightman has sold 30 million CDs and DVDs during her career, making her the top-selling soprano of all time, according to her publicists.
($1 = 0.6629 pounds)