Actors Kelsey Grammer & Danielle de Niese

“Man of La Mancha” has just been revived on the London stage. Christiane sits down with its stars — “Frasier” veteran Kelsey Grammer and “opera’s coolest soprano” Danielle de Niese — to discuss the show, Grammer’s own personal tragedies, and what gives them both hope.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Here we are, the London Colosseum, home of the English National Opera and you’re doing “Man of La Mancha.” What made you — what attracted you to this script to this performance? Why did you come here to do it?

KELSEY GRAMMER, ACTOR, “MAN OF LA MANCHA”: Well, I guess it’s the song, the big song, the “Impossible Dream.” I grew up listening to it. I heard every version as a child, my mom driving a car, it was on the radio, but I always loved it. I always thought, boy, that’s a powerful vision to dream the impossible dream.

AMANPOUR: Care to give us a couple of bars?

GRAMMER: Well, I could just do a bar. ♪ To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe. ♪ Yes, it’s —

DANIELLE DE NIESE, OPERA SINGER AND ACTOR, “MAN OF LA MANCHA”: The words, the words are so great too.

GRAMMER: It’s an extraordinary song.

AMANPOUR: And the feeling and sort of the inspirational quality of it. I mean you are a professional opera singer and here you are doing this musical which is slightly different.


AMANPOUR: I mean it’s very clear that you are a great opera singer when you’re there. How do you like that song?

DE NIESE: The song is amazing. I get to sing it at the end. And it’s a hugely inspirational song and it’s the song that transcended the musical in a way and sort of seeped into their mass cultural consciousness.

AMANPOUR: Any lines from you?

DE NIESE: ♪ To bear with unbearable sorrow. ♪

GRAMMER: Lovely.

AMANPOUR: It’s really beautiful. I guess I’m sort of concentrating on these words because I’ve also been really sort of attracted to this performance and the film back in 1972. And I think it really, and you can tell from the audience, strikes a chord because it’s about inspiration, it’s about idealism, it’s about, well, trying to beat and battle the odds.

GRAMMER: Yes. I’ll tell you a funny story. I took a date to the film. I was in my late teens I think and I just started to weep at the end. And I sort of bolted out the side of the movie theater. And this lovely young lady came up behind me and said gosh, “I guess you kind of related.” I guess so. I’m not sure our future was destined to go anywhere after that, but you know.

DE NIESE: It’s great, though. I mean it’s also a piece about redemption, which is a big journey that some of the characters have to make, to find the way in which they can see themselves and see the hope that lies within them. Because I think your character has a tremendous amount of hope, but nobody has any hope in you. And then my character has no hope in herself at all and needs to find that inspiration through meeting Don Quixote, to have any hope at all.

GRAMMER: You know it’s funny. It just — it has this gift that gives people the idea that you can be seen by someone else as pure, more beautiful than you even know you are. And I think that is such a magnificent thing.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about her call to action on internet extremism, gun control and climate change. She also speaks with Kelsey Grammer and Danielle de Niese, who are both starring in “Man of La Mancha” on the London stage. Michel Martin speaks with Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen about Mueller, Trump and Putin.