Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 18, 2006
Lacombe opera star sings in Benedict's home town
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Everyone sensed that the pope was excited about being in his town of birth."
- Anna Maria Kaufmann
Accompanied by a professional orchestra and her own pianist, Kaufmann, 44, sang several classical pieces while the pope passed by, including Amazing Grace and Alleluia by Amadeus Mozart. "I sang in the background but it was for him," Kaufmann said.
"This was an unforgettable experience for me because everyone sensed that the pope was excited about being in his town of birth. You could feel that somehow. And he was so friendly and open and he did things that they didn't plan for him to do."
Kaufman, a well-known German-Canadian opera and musical singer, was invited to sing for the pope's visit because she had sung in Marktl-am-Inn eight months ago during a cultural event. The pope's pilot, who is also a musician and was in charge of musical arrangements for the visit, remembered Kaufmann and invited her to sing with his orchestra.
"Being from a small town in Canada and raised Catholic having this opportunity to sing for the pope was a very inspirational and wonderful experience."
Kaufmann was the only professional singer at the event. "I didn't get to meet the pope but I sang for him."
She hopes to meet the pontiff next year in Rome during the celebrations of his 80th birthday, where she is expected to perform.
Born in Edmonton and raised in Lacombe, Anna Maria studied French in Montreal before travelling to Germany to work and learn the language some 22 years ago. She received musical training at the Robert Schumann Institute for Music in Dsseldorf and also trained as a ballerina and actor.
Her big break came with the role of Christine in the Andrew Lloyd Weber hit Phantom of the Opera in 1990. She played the role in more than 500 performances and subsequently became an award-winning singing star in Germany. She has won a number of prestigious awards as a performer in Europe.
In addition to numerous starring roles in operas and musicals throughout Europe, Kaufmann is known as an actress in Germany, with many television appearances to her credit. Later this year she will tour several Canadian cities, including Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. She will perform at Edmonton's Winspear Centre as a guest in a concert with Pablo, the Greek guitarist, in early November.
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