Sarah Brightman is an English soprano singer, actress, songwriter, and dancer, best known for her classical soprano performances in several musicals and operas. She was a prolific musical theater performer during the 1980s, with several performances in the musicals of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, to whom she was married from 1984 to 1990. Her performances won her wide spread acclaim; her London Cast Album of the musical Phantom of the Opera sold 40 million copies, making it the best selling musical theater cast album of all time. Following her career as a stage performer, Brightman became a sucessful studio musician, and, with collaborator Frank Peterson of German band Enigma, she went on to essentially create an entire category of pop music; the classical crossover performance. This success propelled Brightman to become one of the most successful classical vocalists, becoming the highest grossing classical femal vocalist of all time. 
After her divorce from Andrew Lloyd Weber in 1990, she retired from stage performances and began a career as a crossover artist. Her 1996 duet with Italian singer Angrea Bocelli, "Time to Say Goodbye", sold over 14 million copies worldwide, making the 20th best selling single of all time. Among her awards and honors for her singing career include more than 180 gold and platinum record sales awards, a Grammy for Best Classical Artist, and several Echo Awards for Best Female Artist. 
Brightman is also the only artist to have been invited to perform the Olympic Games theme song, in the 1992 Barcelona Games, and the 2008 Beijing Games. She also has held a position as UNESCO's Artist for Peace in recognition of her charitable and humanitarian work. 
Early Career and Life on the Stage
Sarah Brightman began her career as a singer and dancer with the group Hot Gossip in 1976, releasing several popular disco era songs. After leaving the group, she started a solo singing career, releasing several singles under her own label, Whisper Records. 
In 1981, Brightman met her future husband, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, when she auditioned for a role in the new West End musical Cats. Her successful audition landed her the role of Jemima. After ending her run in Cats, Brightman went on to perform in several other musicals, including The Pirates of Penzance and Masquerade. She later landed the lead and titular role in the children's opera Nightingale. Her performance in Nightinggale was of such high quality that it attracted the notice of Andrew Lloyd Webber; after seeing her performance in the opera Webber and Brightman began a romantic relationship culminating in a marriage in 1984. 
Brightman would go on to have starring roles in several of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, Song and Dance, and Requiem. The role of Christine Daae in Webber's Phantom was written specifically for Brightman. After a successful London run of the musical, the production was brought to Broadway. A dispute over casting nearly caused the production to be halted, as Webber refused to allow Phantom to open unless Brightman was allowed to perform the lead role. The dispute resolved, Phantom went on to sell nearly $18 million in advance ticket sales, and went on to become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time. However, American critics weren't impressed, panning her performance as Christine.