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.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492~Overture - Redux (includes organ part of Pete Townsend's Won't Get Fooled Again)