Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Elvis Costello's "opera"

Elvis Costello's new album dropped yesterday and you couldn't do an internet search for "opera" without it coming up. "Why?" you might ask? Because in addition to it being a new album from a rock icon, it's also being touted as the first recorded release of arias from Costello's new opera commissioned by Royal Danish Opera. The story revolves around Hans Christian Andersen's infatuation with Jenny Lind (he reportedly wrote "The Nightingale" with her in mind) and was due to be premiered in 2007 but remains unfinished. Here's the catch: although it was scheduled to be performed with Danish soprano Sine Bundgaard, with Costello singing the tracks on this album, I just can't hear it as opera.

The tracks, which can be heard here in sample format, are tracks 6 through 9 and sound to me right in line with the rest of the album's country music vibe. Am I alone here? Am I the only one that thinks that Ted Neely is an amazing rock singer but that neither Jesus Christ Superstar, nor Tommy are operas, despite the "rock opera" monikers? I've never really thought of myself of a traditionalist, and I love 20th and 21st century oepra as much as the next guy (well more actually - I'm quite fond of a lot of it - and the guy next to me at the moment is my four year old son so.....) but having the Globe and Mail describing those tracks as opera seem to me to be a stretch. What do you out there think?


Susan Eichhorn-Young said...

In fact, Jesus Christ Superstar was initially written to be a rock ORATORIO!

Gerrit Theule said...

Somehow I find that even more distressing!