Icon of international song, he once again profoundly touched an adoring public, in one excessive and humble gesture in his sole recital at the Grand Hotel Kadri in Zahle. It is in its quiet lounges that we had the privilege of meeting the Titan with a golden voice.
Musical interlude in one of the receptions of the Grand Hotel Kadri
Has Lebanon changed in your eyes since your first visit? I had already visited Lebanon before the war, when everything was easier, more beautiful, more peaceful. It was called the Switzerland of the Middle East. In fact, I think it was more than Switzerland, a paradise instead. I returned to Lebanon during and after the war. Lebanon has changed a lot. What really surprised me, was how quickly Lebanon rose from the ashes. Lebanon owes it to the genius, the energy of the Lebanese. This is a truly wonderful phenomenon. I love Lebanon for several reasons. I have a lot of Lebanese friends and a large number of Lebanese took refuge in my country during the war. Greece and Lebanon are good neighbors. And there is a history behind Lebanon, the Phoenicians and one of the oldest civilizations of the world. However, it is a shame that at present, the authorities with their laws on visas and residence permits, put celebrities and cabaret dancers in one basket. I would stress the importance of opening Lebanon to cultural events that contribute significantly to revive a country and to forget its bad reputation born of war and terrorism.
Organizing art events is the best way to revive the country and open it to the world. This includes inviting celebrities to attract attention of the international press. This law is not bad in itself, but we must learn to make a difference … This incident literally shocked me and I’m not the only one to have lived it.
What beautiful memory do you keep of past Lebanon? On each of my visits, I was full of beautiful memories.
What are your passions? I love nature. I like to walk my dog at the seaside, in the company of my wife. I like to hunt and collect antiques, go to shows … I like good restaurants and cooking. Cooking is an art like music, there is no bad music, there are only bad musicians. And I create my own kitchen, my own meals.
An international star in the traditional setting of the Grand Hotel Kadri in Zahle
Your character is cosmopolitan. You have traveled the world, lived all over, you have been the idol of millions of fans and you still are. Where do you consider yourself the most «at home»? I am one of the few people who consider themselves citizens of the Earth and believe in the utopia of a world without borders. The day when all the inhabitants of this planet will consider themselves as citizens of the Earth and not citizens of a single country, world peace will finally reign.
You sing in several languages, in which you feel most comfortable? English and Italian, both languages sound good music. I love listening to poems by Goethe declaimed by a beautiful German voice, but as it relates to the song, I prefer Italian.
Your discography is huge, which of your songs you are particularly fond of? It’s strange, there is a song that has followed me my whole life, it’s Goodbye my love Goodbye, but I’m still not attached to it in a particular way, because my songs are a bit like my children, I cannot love one more than another.
What are your plans for now? An album regularly every year, a music that ranges from classical to new age, with melodies as always. I intend to «train» my audience to this new kind of music. I also caress a great symphony project. My dream is a song where oriental is merged with western music, but very far from «commercial» music heard on the airwaves. I will also tell you that I look with great pleasure to return again in your beautiful country. I would like to especially sing next year on a grand stage in the Baalbeck festival. What matters to me most, is discovering the spirit of a people. My success, my longevity in showbiz, I owe it to my international, universal music. I am a silent giant, even in my music, that’s why I do not need a hit, a tube to move forward, confirm myself. Demis Roussos, it’s classic, I make an album every year simply because it makes me happy.
What are your plans for 2000 New Year’s Eve? I have received offers of work, but I hesitate … I would love to spend the evening of the Millennium Eve somewhere in the desert, I would like to feel the planet and space. Because I am fortunate to be part of this generation who will know and span two centuries, even two millennia. I also had the chance to witness an extremely creative period, the sixties and seventies, is the golden age of music. And that’s really fantastic. Interview by NATHALIE BARAKAT