Frangoulis was born on December 18, 1966 in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) of Greek parents. At the age of four, he was sent to Athens, Greece to live with his maternal aunt Loula and her husband. The couple adored him and he came to consider them his real parents. Frangoulis began singing in choirs at the age of eight, and at the age of eleven he played the part of Issachar in a school production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Thereafter, he had roles in several other school theatrical performances, including the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret and —at the age of 16— Tony in West Side Story.
Musical and theatre studies
Frangoulis studied the violin for twelve years, getting a first prize at the age of 14., He graduated from the Conservatoire in 1984, and although he did not further his studies, this particular musical training assisted the tenor later on, during his opera studies.
In 1985, Frangoulis moved to London, where he attended a three-year professional acting course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1988, during his final year, he played Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, a production in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company for the Arundel Festival. Frangoulis then played the lead in the James McConnel/Kit Hesketh-Harvey musical Orlando,, where he was spotted by Cameron Mackintosh who, after an audition, offered him the part of Marius in the West End production of Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre (1988–1989) under the direction of Trevor Nunn. Also in 1989, Frangoulis —who had never studied classical singing— received the Maria Callas Scholarship for Opera. After finishing Les Misérables, he went to Italy where he studied with tenor Carlo Bergonzi at the Verdi Academy in Busseto, graduating six months later.
In 1990 Frangoulis moved to Rome where, after a successful audition for the conductor Nicola Rescigno and the renowned tenor Alfredo Kraus, he became Kraus' first private student and travelled with him around the world, studying vocal technique and repertory.
Career and further studies
] 1990 to 1995
In 1991 Frangoulis was invited by Andrew Lloyd Webber to star as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. The same year, he appeared alongside Montserrat Caballé, Samuel Ramey and the British Youth Opera in the charity gala 'Serenade to a Princess' at the Whitehall Palace, celebrating the birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales.
In 1992, Frangoulis moved to New York to continue his operatic studies. At the suggestion of his mentor Marilyn Horne, and with the help of the Onassis Scholarship,he completed a three-year course at the Juilliard School of Music, as well as studying with soprano Dodi Protero. In 1993, Frangoulis also travelled to Liverpool, where he performed in an Opera Gala celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, hosted by Sir Peter Ustinov, with the orchestra and chorus of the London Royal Opera House.Artists appearing were Montserrat Caballé, Dmitri Hvorostowki, Julia Migenes-Johnson, Dennis O' Neil, Rita Hunter and the late Alfredo Kraus, with the orchestra and chorus of the London Royal Opera House conducted by Robin Stapleton, in the presence of His Majesty Juan Carlos of Spain and HM Queen Sophia, and HRH Prince Andrew of England In the summer of the same year, he sang at the Athens Concert Hall in an opera gala dedicated to the memory of Maria Callas alongside stars of the Greek National Opera. In 1994 he was the first Greek to become a finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti International Competition.
In 1995, Frangoulis returned to London to play the role of Lun-Tha in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The King and I during the Covent Garden Festival. This performance received great critical acclaim from a number of newspapers including the Times and The Guardian. He also sang the title role in the musical Yusupov in Oxford as well as Johnny in «Sail away» (Savoy theatre in London). In 1995 he participated in a recording of Bernard J.Taylor 's "Nosferatu", a double CD of the whole through-sung work, starring Peter Karrie as Nosferatu, Claire Moore as Mina, Mario Frangoulis as Jonathan. A highlights cassette is also available. The recording was released in April 1995 with a "Vampire Night" at Stringfellow's nightclub in London, and was Dress Circle's best-selling recording for over three months after its release.
In the summer of 1996 he made his debut at the Herod Atticus ancient amphitheater, under the Athens Acropolis, in an evening dedicated to the memory of Leonard Bernstein., with the "Orchestra of Colours" ( a symphony orchestra created by Oscar-winning popular Greek composer Manos Hatzidakis, usually misspelled Manos Hadjidakis), singing excerpts from "West Side Story", "Candide", " Our Town" etc. He returned to the Odeon the following September in the role of Orpheus in the Orpheus Liturgy, an oratorio that was broadcast on Greek television. This marked the start of his collaboration with Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos – here misspelled as Giannis Markopoulos. He reprised the role of Lun-Tha in a concert version of the musical with the BBC Symphony Orchestraconducted by Wally Harper, with Barbara Cook.
1996 also saw Frangoulis return to the London cast of Les Misérables.
In February 1997, due to his mother's serious illness, Frangoulis returned to Greece. There he joined Athens' theatrical scene, notably through his playing Billy Kracker in Kurt Weill's Happy End with the Karolos Koun Art Theatre, directed by George Lazanis, the Lead Bird in Aristophanes' comedy The Birds, directed once more by Lazanis and performed in almost every major ancient amphitheatre of Greece, such as Epidaurus, Sparta, Filippoi and many more. In September 1997 he was offered the lead role of Danny Zouko in the musical Grease, directed by David Gilmore. Once more, it was a great success with public and critics alike and the start of his popularity with the Greek public. In the same season, he appeared in late night shows in the prestigious music hall "Iera Odos", alongside Greek star George Dalaras, singing popular Greek, Italian and Spanish songs: the production toured Greece and Europe (London, Paris, Brussels, Helsinki, Munchen, Berlin, and Frankfurt) and was turned into a best-selling CD (by EMI Greece), which soon went platinum. Representatives of Sony Music heard him in this show and arranged for him to be introduced to Peter Gelb, the head of Sony Classical: the outcome was the signing of an exclusive contract for 2 CDs and 3 CDs optional, enabling M. Frangoulis to start an international recording career at the highest level. His collaboration with prestigious Greek composers continued with his starring in the May 1998 Herod Atticus performance of Mikis Theodorakis' "Axion Esti", a musical rendition of the historic poem of the same name by Nobel prize winner Odysseas Elytis.
In the spring of 1999 he made his first solo show at the Iera Odos music hall., with songs from all over the world, with the participation of Deborah Meyers. He was an overnight sensation, and these appearances were followed by a hugely successful concert tour in Greece and Cyprus the following summer, playing to audiences of 2.000 to 10.000 people. His first solo album, "Fengari erotevmeno" ("Love struck moon"), a live recording of the show, a double CD by Sony, Greece (with kind permission of Sony Classical), was an immediate best-seller, thus winning him his second platinum album (both in Greece and Cyprus) in two years. .
In July 2000, Frangoulis was the first Greek tenor to perform at La Scala, Milan, as Tony in West Side Story he there. In August, he sang the title role in Yannis Markopoulos' Erotokritos at the Herodion Atticus theatre, and returned to the venue later that month for a solo recital there, celebrating his first ten years as a professional performer on stage. The repertoire included Greek and international songs, in a production that also toured Greece and was turned into a CD. Frangoulis was invited by the composer Mikis Theodorakis to perform in the Machi tis kritis concert at the Kallimarmaro amphitheatre in a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Crete. Around 85,000 people attended.
At the beginning of 2001, Frangoulis took part in a charity opera gala at the Athens Concert Hall, alongside stars of the Greek National Opera. That May, he was one of the leading artists in an evening called Viva Verdi, a tribute for the centenary of the composer's death, given at the Novaya Opera of Moscow. The concert was repeated in Cyprus the following month. In the summer of 2001 he made his debut in ancient Greek tragedy, played Dionysus in a touring production of Euripides' The Bacchae,also performed at the Herod Atticus Theatre in Athens. In October of the same year, Frangoulis was one of the lead performers in the international production Bravo China alongside Nana Mouskouri and famous Chinese artists Liu Huan and Huang Ying, at the Herodes Atticus theatre where he performed in both Greek and Chinese.
In March at the Athens Concert Hall, Frangoulis gave a concert with Deborah Myers, made up of songs from well-known films. In July of the same year he appeared both at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens, for the launching of his first international album 'Sometimes I Dream',, and in Thessaloniki in a concert with Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, a performance that included 'Nights in White Satin' This performance was recorded and released on DVD. In October, Frangoulis began a grand tour around Europe, the USA and Asia in order to promote 'Sometimes I Dream'. In November, the Thessaloniki concert was broadcast on PBS. At the end of the year, Frangoulis appeared with singer Maria Farantouri representing Greece in the Millennium Festivities held on New Year's Eve under the Acropolis.
On January 30, Frangoulis was invited by the Athens 2004 Olympic Games committee to give a concert at the Athens Olympic Stadium. In March he made his first appearance at the Greek National Opera, where he sang opera arias and duets as well as songs and duets from musicals with soprano Elena Kelessidou. In June of that year he appeared at the Ulricksdal festival, Stockholm, accompanied by the Swedish Symphonic Orchestra. Orchestra. August 2003 found him in at the Helsinki Festival. With the Moscow New Opera soloists, chorus and orchestra, he made a hugely successful tour of different cities in Russia and Cyprus, singing arias and duets in a concert with sets and costumes, called «Tribute to Maria Callas» in which he interpreted, among others, Verdi's "Otello".
On New Year's Eve, he welcomed 2004 with the Mayor of Athens, in an open-air performance in Syntagma Square, which was broadcast live all over Greece and, by satellite, all over the world. Also taking part in that concert were Greek stars Alkistis Protopsalti, Konstantinos Markoulakis, Dimitris Papadimitriou as well as the Gypsy Kings. In April he appeared in an evening in honor of Danai, a Greek singer very famous in the '30s, where he sang —an unusual for him repertoire— songs by Attic, Hairopoulos etc. On May 11, he sang at the Herod Atticus Theatre in a concert for the 550 years of the Great School of the Greeks (a famous Greek institution in ex-Constantinople, now Istanbul). The songs were all by Mikis Theodorakis, with the Greek Radio Television Symphony Orchestra. The first part included symphonic songs in various languages (Greek, Italian, German, English, French and Chinese) and in the second part, "Axion esti", with Konstantinos Markoulakis as narrator and Mario in the role of the Popular Singer. On May 22, at the 57th Cannes Film Festival, he attended the world premiere of the film De-Lovely,based on the life of Cole Porter, and starring Kevin Klein. Mario played the part of Alfred Drake, a Broadway star of the '60s, and he sang the duet'So in Love' from Kiss Me, Kate, with Lara Fabian. After the showing of the film, he took part to a concert, with some other of the singing cast of the film (Robbie Williams, Nathalie Cole, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Diana Krall).,. In July and August, his second foray into Greek tragedy: the lead role of Achilles in the lost Aeschylus trilogy Achilleis, recently reconstructed from fragments of Aeschylus verses, completed with verses from Homer's "Iliad", in a translation of Ilias Malandris, directed by Nikos Haralambous, with the Cyprus Theatre Organization, with prestigious co-stars such as Despina Bebedelli, Dim. Kafkaridis and Jenny Gaitanopoulou. The performance, after touring in Cyprus, was presented in Epidaurus on August 6 and 7. In August, Frangoulis also took part in the final concert of the Torch Relay at the Athens Olympic Games. It was here that he first performed the song 'Here's to the Heroes',, which was shown as part of the UK's BBC Songs of Praise Olympics Special. In September he took part at the inauguration of the Paralympics, to an audience of 90,000 people. On October 1, he deepened his relationship with jazz with an appearance at the Herod Atticus Stadium, shared with soprano Barbara Hendrics, singing songs such as "Mack the Knife", "Unforgettable", "When I fall in love", "My baby just don't care for me" and "Feuilles mortes", "I get a kick out of you", Cole Porter's "You're the top" and "So in love", finishing with "Every time we say goodbye". He then flew to Japan where, on 11 October, he gave a concert at the Bunkamura Orchard Hall with the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Shuya Okatu and soprano Maki Mori. He sang songs from "Sometimes I Dream", as well as "O Sole Mio", "Granada", excerpts from Theodorakis' Canto General and the "Brindisi" from La traviata. In November, he was in the U.K. for eight concerts with soprano Hayley Westenra. November 2004 also saw the release of Frangoulis' second international album Follow your Heart.
During February and March he was in the U.S. for his first American tour of 28 cities with pianist Jim Brickman and Ann Cochran, to promote his album. In April he took a break to give concerts in South Africa (Sun City), with Vicky Sampson. Then he continued his tour visiting Canada, Los Angeles, San Francisco. On May 20, he gave his first solo concert in the U.S., at the New York City Center, with guest artist soprano Liza Vroman. This was followed by two others, one at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland and another one at the Sheldon Hall in St. Louis, Missouri In June he performed at a black-tie event at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Arts Center in Wisconsin. In July, Frangoulis performed his first concert in Istanbul, a sold-out open-air concert under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The rest of the summer he spent in Greece for his usual concert tour around the country, culminating with the "Music of the Night" concert held in October at the Herodes Atticus accompanied by the New Opera of Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Later that month, he took part to Plácido Domingo's concert in Cyprus, featuring Kallen Esperian, accompanied by the Cyprus State Symphony and the Moscow New Opera Symphony Orchestra.
His second U.S. tour saw a number of solo concerts:
January 7 – Solo concert in honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Tampa, Florida at the Sun Dome, with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra,., and the Archdiocesan Metropolitan Youth Choir.
April 6 & 7 – Horatio Alger Award Ceremony Washington, DC
June 10 – Fundraising Gala Event – Sharon Wilson Center, Brookefield, Wisconsin
April 9 – Cincinnati, Ohio – Yellow Ribbon Scholarship Fundraising Event
May 6 – Solo concert at the Detroit Opera House in Detroit, Michigan
June 16 – Solo Concert – Sanders Theater – sponsored by the Greek Institute at Harvard in Cambridge, MA.
And then, for the rest of the summer, in the Mediterranean:
June 24–28 Greek Concert tour (Piraeus, Athens, Thessaloniki etc.)
June 30 – Private Gala Event – Baalbek, Lebanon International Music Festival's 50 years anniversary
July 2, his second concert in Turkey, at the Harbiye Open Air Theater in Istanbul
October: at the Herod Atticus theatre, "Tribute to Mario Lanza" concert.
October: debut Concert in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony at Orchestra Hall and at the Landmark Theatre in Richmond with the Richmond Symphony.
Frangoulis completed his new album Amor Oscuro (Skotinos Erotas), dedicated to the Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca. In April he performed with Elena Kelessidi and the Baltimore Opera Company orchestra at the Lyric Opera House, Baltimore and in October, he returned to the US for a concert in Boston. In December, Frangoulis released another album: Passione, a collection of songs that Mario Lanza used to sing
Frangoulis toured in the United States leg of Sarah Brightman's "Symphony Tour".
Mario Frangoulis resides in Athens, Greece.
He has sung in about forty charity galas, such as the Red Cross Annual Ball, held at the Grosvenor House, several galas organized by the Greek foundation Elpida —a charity dedicated to the cure of children who suffer from cancer— and many others. As a producer, he has organized charity shows and concerts for children in need, such as the one for the Michael S.Polemis Foundation.
2002: José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation gala concert in Leipzig, Germany with Plácido Domingo, Harry Belafonte, Sarah Connors and others.
March 2003: charity concert for Action Aid with soprano Elena Kelessidou at the National Greek Opera
September 2003: UNESCO concert during the International Conference for the Cultural Management of World Heritage Cities, Rhodes
December 2004: "Refugee Voices; a concert for Darfur" – concert in aid of the children of Darfur held at the Royal Albert Hall, London
April 2005: Concert for the Horatio Alger Association at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C..
26th of January 2005, following the Tsunami devastation in Southern Asia, Mario Frangoulis participated in a fundraising concert, held by the National Television of Greece, in support of the children which lost their families in the disaster
October 2006: concert in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the benefit of Chicago's Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center
November 2007: 'Give Us Your Poor', a benefit concert for the homeless in Boston at The Strand theatre He also appears on a compilation album of the same name.