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East Village Opera Company

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.

Biography

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...
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