(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
People who need Barbra Streisand are indeed lucky these days: The mother of all contemporary pop divas suddenly appears to be everywhere.
This week, Streisand, 70, launches her first concert tour in six years. She'll sing in Philadelphia Monday night, then return to her native Brooklyn for two shows -- her first public performances there -- Thursday and Saturday at Barclays Center, the new 19,000-seat venue recently christened by fellow hometown hero Jay-Z.
On Tuesday, Streisand unveils Release Me, a collection of previously unavailable recordings culled from her personal master tapes, from '60s tracks to 2011's If It's Meant to Be, featuring lyrics by her longtime collaborators Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
Fans of Streisand the actress can also look forward to seeing her on screen this Christmas, as Seth Rogen's mom in the Anne Fletcher-directed comedy The Guilt Trip.
For now, though, the emphasis is on music. After Brooklyn, Streisand will perform in Canada , Chicago, Las Vegas and San Jose before wrapping in Los Angeles Nov. 9 and 11. She'll be backed by a 60-piece orchestra and a guest choir in each city. (The Brooklyn Youth Chorus will do the honors at Barclays.)
Richard Jay-Alexander, who co-directs the show with Streisand, describes it as flaunting her Brooklyn and Broadway roots. "Broadway music has teeth, and she built her house on that teeth," says Jay-Alexander. "She's Broadway's greatest export."
There will be songs representing other facets of Streisand's career as well, including The Way We Were, to be delivered as an homage to the late Marvin Hamlisch. Supporting acts Chris Botti and Il Volo won't open the concert but will rather be woven into the main act, performing with the star attraction.
Streisand's son, Jason Gould, 45, will also sing with his mom. "Jason will be on the entire tour with us," Jay-Alexander says. "He has his mother's mellifluence, and like her, he never sings a song the same way twice. She's wildly proud of him."
Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni expects that the tour will do well "despite the fact that her tickets can be very expensive." (The cheapest seats went for $90; Ticketmaster is selling remaining Barclays seats for $150-$650 a pop.) "She's one of those really iconic artists who hasn't been readily available in a while," Bongiovanni says.
J.D. Considine, jazz critic for Canada's The Globe and Mail, adds that Streisand still occupies a unique niche. Celine Dion would be her most obvious inheritor "in terms of having lots of vocal power and a larger-than-life sense of drama and romance," Considine says. "But I can't imagine (Dion) doing movies the way that Streisand has. And it's hard to envision someone else coming from Broadway, in today's culture, and having that kind of impact."
Jay-Alexander, who has worked with Streisand since 2000, says that "to be in the same room with that voice is always an extraordinary, visceral experience. It's an event."