Rock Meets Opera/ East Village Opera Company/ Town Hall/ NYC

Filed under: Live Music,Reviews — doktorjohn April 27, 2007 @ 2:38 am

The merging of rock with classical music has been tried from time to time over the years, dating back at least as far as 1967’s “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams and Walter Murphy’s disco entry, “A Fifth of Beethoven,” both based on instrumental, rather than vocal works.
Rock operas such as “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and virtually everything by Andrew Lloyd Weber represent original compositions done in semi-operatic style. The East Village Opera Company’s effort is different in that it consists of faithful versions of classical operatic arias performed in true rock style, both vocal and instrumental.

The ensemble consists of a drum set, electric piano played by the EVOC’s mastermind Peter Kieswalter, two guitars, a bass, three violins and a cello, plus two vocalists, one male and one female.

The performance opened with Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” as shaved-headed, mod-attired vocalist Tyley Ross bounded on stage, strutting like a young Mick Jagger while the music swelled in a bombastic Queen-like accompaniment. Next followed the Puccini aria “Che Gelida manina” from Boheme and a bluesy “Questo o Quello” from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

The music turned funky for a duet from “Lakme” in which Tyley was joined by the incandescent AnnMarie Milazzo whose vocal skills just barely exceeded the appeal of her dangerously hot, wet-tee-shirt-worthy physique.

Just before the first intermission, Tyley went solo for an upbeat version of Puccini’s triumphant “Nessun’ Dorma,” made the most popular tenor aria by Luciano Pavorotti a generation ago.

They returned with “M’Appari” a familiar melody that everybody knows, but few have heard performed in art rock style. The ironic “La Donna e Mobile” and venerated songs from “Carmen” and “Madame Butterfly” received the classic rock treatment.

The EVOC was joined by an actual diva from the New York City Opera company to sing an up tempo aria from “La Traviata,” and the audience got an opportunity to listen in awe to a real operatic singer whose voice and vocal skills literally dwarfed those of the gracious and humble EVOC.

A Neapolitan song, ”Mattinata” and “The Pearl Fishers” brought a temporary close to the show, but they returned to thunderous applause with Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” then did some tongue-in-cheek rap and the rockingest “Vesti La Giubba” from “I Pagliacci” ever.

A packed house at NYC’s Town Hall roared their appreciation repeatedly, and this uniquely talented ensemble eventually brought both young hipsters and gray-haired baby-boomers to their feet in a foot-stomping, hand clapping, and head-bobbing frenzy.

At first it seems like the ultimate clash of styles. Antiquated, somber and aristocratic opera meets lurid, exuberant and radical rock. But both rely heavily on passionate, vehement and intense expression. The combined style takes advantage of the most delicious melodies ever written —sometimes rousing, often exquisitely heart-breaking— but couples them to the compelling rhythms and the freedoms that go with rock— freedom to twist and bend notes, modulate keys and accelerate rhythms for emotional effect. The EVOC does this with fantastic artistry, mastery, and loving respect for both genres.

3 views of a Young Philosopher in Montclair NJ

Filed under: My Art — doktorjohn April 3, 2007 @ 2:42 am

Penn & Teller

Filed under: My Art — doktorjohn @ 2:39 am

Pencil portraits done at a Skeptics Convention