Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis sings for his homeland

COURTESY Alessandro DobiciGreek singer Mario Frangoulis

COURTESY Alessandro DobiciGreek singer Mario Frangoulis

The complexity of music is never “all Greek” to celebrated tenor Mario Frangoulis. Sometimes it is also French, Italian, Spanish and, even, English.

“I also sing in German,” he laughs, but don’t really speak the language very well,” adds the international recording artist, who makes his San Francisco debut at Nourse Theater on Friday.

Zimbabwe was still the British colony of Rhodesia when Frangoulis was born there in 1967. At age 4, he was sent to Athens to live with his aunt and uncle, and by 6 he began a lifetime of musical experience and training that includes the Maria Callas Scholarship for Opera, concerts on PBS, and theater roles in Athens and London’s West End.

“My grandmother sort of raised me,” he says. “She came from Istanbul, truly loved classical music and was a great inspiration to me in so many ways.”

One was her sense of philanthropy. “She was always helping other families whenever she felt they had a need,” he recalls. “She also installed in me this amazing need for education and to better my circumstances, even though I was just a young boy.”

Unsurprisingly, a portion of proceeds from his concert tour will support Apostoli (Mission) and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), which provides care to families in Greece.

Frangoulis is heartbroken to witness the economic difficulties in his homeland. “People lose their jobs, have cuts in pensions and young people can’t even afford to get to school. There’s a lot of poverty and homelessness.”

His tone is almost reverent with the hope, he says, that “we are able to preserve our culture and traditions, and love and support each other, and, I hope, make better choices politically.

“I feel that I have to give back somehow,” he continues, “because it’s not just about a career and creating a name for yourself. If you just become famous, then you’re left with nothing. You have to leave something behind. And it’s good to influence young people’s lives and to help those who are less fortunate.”

An obvious legacy would be children of his own. Frangoulis has considered this carefully, given his own experience.

“You have to really spend quality time with your children and make sure that they get the best of you. I travel a lot and would not want my children raised by a nanny,” he says. “I didn’t see my parents again until I was 8. I’m still close to my mother, but back then I felt abandoned. I don’t want to do that to a child.”


Mario Frangoulis

Where: Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $35 to $150

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.comartsClassical Music & OperaGreeceMario Frangoulistenor

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Organizer Jas Florentino, left, explains the figures which represent 350 kidnapped Africans first sold as slaves in the United States in 1619 in sculptor Dana King’s “Monumental Reckoning.” The installation is in the space of the former Francis Scott Key monument in Golden Gate Park. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What a reparations program would look like in The City

‘If there’s any place we can do it, it’s San Francisco’

Officer Joel Babbs at a protest outside the Hall of Justice in 2017 (Bay City News file photo)
The strange and troubling story of Joel Babbs: What it tells us about the SFPD

The bizarre and troubling career of a whistle-blowing San Francisco police officer… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a COVID-19 update at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Gavin Newsom under COVID: The governor dishes on his pandemic life

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters It was strange, after 15 months of watching… Continue reading

People fish at a dock at Islais Creek Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline,… Continue reading

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Most Read