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East Village Opera Company

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Album Review

If you think the Who had the last word in rock opera and that Queen was the end all in operatic pop, the East Village Opera Company — a powerhouse five-piece band with a string quartet and two compelling vocalists — will have you rethinking those precepts. The success of foreign-language-driven pop by Josh Groban and il Divo no doubt made it possible for this unique outfit to adapt some of these opera classics into a 21st century context. The Mozart-composed overture (from "Le Nozze di Figaro") has some of those Who-like synthesizer speckles over an insistent drumbeat before a blistering rock assault begins, which is sort of like paying homage to one of the great sources of the concept. Though the first-time listener who is not an opera fan may not know all the original titles (whose composers include Puccini, Verdi, and Bizet), it's a great introduction to the art form because each track is performed at full length and in the original languages. The best of these are the synth-metal jam "La Donna e Mobile" from Rigoletto, a soulful and symphonic sweep through "Habanera" from Carmen (which should ring a bell), and "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot. The East Village Opera Company was co-founded by lead singer Tyley Ross and arranger/multi-instrumentalist Peter Kiesewalter. They assembled a full-on rock band, adding two guitars, bass, and drums to Kiesewalter's keyboards, then synched it to a string quartet. A second vocalist, Ann Marie Milazzo, was recruited for explosive duets with Ross and various soaring solos. The project was produced by three-time Grammy winner Neil Dorfsman, with string arrangements recorded in Prague by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.

Customer Reviews

Wonderfully Innovative

This album combines opera and rock incredibly well. The vocals are amazing. A truly innovative album.

straight outta Ottawa

These fellas (Tyley and Peter) have come so far in three years with this outfit, from their amazing debut performance at their hometown's National Arts Centre and their time in the East Village as the "house band" at Joe's Bar to where they now have a 5-album deal with Decca and an ambitious touring schedule. You must see them in person to really appreciate their fusion of opera tunes and performance rock. (Even if opera means nothing to you, go just to watch Aussie Ben Butler's guitar!) I told them they should get Jeff Lynne as producer, but Neil Dorfsman is plenty good.

Unbelievable Live

I just saw their live show in Calgary... Stunning. Electrifying. Transcendent. None of these words are sufficent to describe them. Their two albums are excellent, but they pale in comparison to their live performance. Soaring operatic vocals and strings blended with the "majesty of rock".


Genre: Classical

Years Active: '00s

While there's plenty of "rock meets classical" from which to choose -- Elvis Costello's ambitious project with the Brodsky Quartet, the smooth teen-classical-pop of Il Divo, and the gigantic bombast of Trans-Siberian Orchestra to name just a few -- the East Village Opera Company are most influenced by Malcolm McLaren's sumptuous 1984 album Fans, which put a new stylish spin on opera. Singer Tyley Ross and arranger/multi-instrumentalist Peter Kiesewalter set out to do the same when they formed their...
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