To the Stars: Sarah Brightman – “The Theme from a Room with a View (Doretta’s Dream)”

With “The Theme from a Room with a View (Doretta’s Dream),” Sarah Brightman takes to a little classical music. It’s a shift from her work in the flavourless Carousel and seems a little like what Christine might sing in The Phantom of the Opera were she not venturing down pop-rock roads.

Brightman performs with the London Chamber Orchestra as conducted by Harry Rabinowitz, the famed South African conductor. The single, available on a seven-inch, comes produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and engineered by Martin Levan.

Side A features “The Theme from a Room with a View (Doretta’s Dream),” with music by Giacomo Puccini from La rondine (The Swallow).

For those scoring at home, A Room with a View is a 1985 British film. It’s one of those Merchant-Ivory deals based on E. M. Forster’s novel of the same name. There is a song entitled “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from the soundtrack sung by Māori soprano Kiri Te Kanawa.

The Lloyd Webber-produced single doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the film or its soundtrack, nor does it appear to even be a cover of Te Kanawa’s version. It’s just a take on “The Theme from A Room with a View (Doretta’s Dream)” that uses Puccini’s music and Charles Hart’s English lyrics to transmute it into a “new song.”

The song showcases Brightman’s range yet again, but it also remains an example of Lloyd Webber’s approach. It isn’t a song from the soundtrack of A Room with a View and it’s not associated with the movie, yet here he is producing it as though it’s the theme!

It’s a given that Brightman sings it beautifully. This is right in her wheelhouse at this point and her soprano cuts through the notes eloquently.

Side B features the conversant “O mio babbino caro,” another Puccini piece. Brightman would record this song a number of times and is quite good at it, although this version seems to fade into nothingness.

Lest anyone think Lloyd Webber’s poaching of A Room with a View is inadvertent, “O mio babbino caro” is also featured on the movie soundtrack. And it’s also sung by Te Kanawa.

To make this sloppy single even better, Lloyd Webber smacks a screen capture of Brightman in the “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” video on the seven-inch cover.

With all this going on, Brightman’s singing of these two songs is really something special. She excels in these sorts of musical moments, as cut-rate as they appear thanks to her then-husband’s “work” in the producer’s chair.


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