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Avantasia was an all-star side project headed by Tobias Sammet, lead singer of the prog-tinged German power metal band Edguy. While recording a guest appearance from Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kürsch with his regular band, Sammet conceived of a massive-scale rock opera featuring the cream of the current power metal scene. He spent a year composing the material, named the "band" Avantasia, and recruited a variety of vocalists to tell his story: Gamma Ray's Kai Hansen, Stratovarius' Timo Tolkki, Virgin Steele's David DeFeis, Angra's Andre Matos, Warrior's Rob Rock, and Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel. For the backing band, Sammet gathered guitarists Jens Ludwig (Edguy) and Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray), bassist Markus Grosskopf (Helloween), and drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody). The album, The Metal Opera, was filled with tried-and-true fantasy themes and anthemic, progressive pomp-metal; it was released by Century Media in the summer of 2001 and was followed by the sequel, The Metal Opera, Vol. 2, the following year in 2002. The band returned years later with its Scarecrow Saga, a three-album piece consisting of The Scarecrow, released in 2008, and The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon, both released in 2010. The Flying Opera, a live set from the Scarecrow tours, was released in 2011, and the following year they unleashed The Mystery of Time, their biggest production yet, which featured the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg.