Sarah Brightman and Majida Al Roumi perform in Dubai

Opera lovers are in for a thrill this weekend as Sarah Brightman and Majida Al Roumi perform as part of the Dubai Classics live concert series. We look at two performers representing the opera traditions of the east and west.

Majida Al Roumi. Kamal Moghrabi / AFP
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Sarah Brightman Age: 53 Nationality: British

CAREER Sarah Brightman's wide appeal has given her the title of classical music's first crossover artist. Born in Hertfordshire, the soprano began her career on the dance floor as part of the disco group Hot Gossip before stretching her vocal talents in London's West End. After her 1981 stage debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, Brightman racked up plenty of starring roles in West End and Broadway musicals, including her legendary turn as the young singer Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. Brightman later returned to her solo career and, since her 1993 album Dive, has produced a string of successful albums fusing opera with pop-music sensibilities.

THE SHOW Her duet with the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Time to Say Goodbye, remains the premiere example of a crossover single. The collaboration sold more than 12 million copies and topped music charts across the world. It is also a perennial selection for funerals in the West, last year placing in the British company Co-operative Funeralcare's Top 30 of such tunes. Brightman rolls into town on the back of her latest album, the space-themed Dreamchaser.

HIGH NOTE The tour so far has been commended for its stripped-back approach, only featuring a four-piece band (a guitarist, pianist, keyboardist and drummer) and two dancers. Split into two acts and with a short interlude, the songs include crowd favourites, in addition to selections from Dreamchaser.

DETAILS Sarah Brightman performs at the Dubai World Trade Center on Thursday and Friday. Tickets start at Dh350 from www.tickets.virginmegastore.me

Majida Al Roumi Age: 57 Nationality: Lebanese

CAREER Despite her father's wishes, a 17-year-old Majida Al Roumi entered the Lebanese television talent show Studio El Fan to test her promising vocal talent. After winning the series with expert renditions of Arabic classics by Asmahan and Leila Mourad, the young singer went on to carve out a distinguished career. Al Roumi's appeal lies in her purposefully moving away from the tepid pop stylings dominating Arab charts. Her organic sound employs a range of musical backdrops, from solitary piano to a Lebanese folk band and a western-style orchestra. Then, of course, there is that stirring voice, heavy with the melancholy that has become her signature sound. Expect tearful sniffles through parts of the performance, especially during the ballad Ma Zal El Omr Harami (Since Time Is a Thief).

Despite ballads remaining her stock-in-trade, Al Roumi understands the need for occasional reinvention. In 2006, she surprised fans by returning from an eight-year break with her comeback album Etazalet El Gharam (I Quit Love). The album is a change, with modern sounds, a more sassy vocal approach and direct lyrics. Etazalet El Gharam remains one her most successful recordings and it ushered a new generation of fans into Al Roumi's fold.

THE SHOW An elegant evening where Al Roumi will be paired with an orchestra. Despite all the studio trickery, Al Roumi is best appreciated live. While most of her tracks derive their emotional power from the poetic lyrics, non-Arab ears can also benefit from her rich voice.

HIGH NOTE Despite ballads remaining her stock-in-trade, Al Roumi understands the need for occasional reinvention. In 2006, she surprised fans by returning from an eight-year break with her comeback album Etazalet El Gharam (I Quit Love). The album is a change, with modern sounds, a more sassy vocal approach and direct lyrics. Etazalet El Gharam remains one her most successful recordings and it ushered a new generation of fans into Al Roumi's fold.

DETAILS Magida Al Roumi performs at the Dubai World Trade Center on Saturday. Tickets start at Dh299 from www.tickets.virginmegastore.me

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