Here at Texas A&M, the student organization responsible for bringing a bit of culture our way is MSC Opas. The few shows I’ve attended in the past have been most enjoyable. The Irish Tenors concert last November was particularly fantastic. Last night’s East Village Opera Company performance was no exception.

Since I procrastinated about finding someone to go with (being single has its drawbacks), I didn’t find someone to give my second ticket to until 45 minutes before the show. But thankfully, a friend of mine was interested in going on short notice so the ticket wasn’t wasted. And he knows more about opera than I do, so it was interesting to hear his perspective on this opera company meets rock band.

Indeed, if you’ve never heard this mixture before, you’re really missing out. Although last night was the first time I had heard true opera performed in a rock fashion, it’s not the first time I’ve had the joy of listening to amazing opera singers against the backdrop of crunchy guitars and bombastic drums. Finnish gothic/orchestral metal band Nightwish featured a female opera singer until recently, and their stuff sounds amazing. Less opera-influenced but similarly enjoyable rock bands are Within Temptation and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (best known for their excellent Christmas albums, but which also did a great Beethoven-themed album). So, since I was already a big fan of this sort of band, I was interested to see what EVOC was all about. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything quite as polished as the aforementioned bands since I hadn’t heard of EVOC before, but half-way through the show I was glad to see I was wrong.

EVOC is comprised of a small string section, keyboard, bass, guitar, drums and two singers (male and female). Their first song was a rocked-out rendition of Mozart’s “La Nozze di Figaro.” Although it had a powerful finale, it wasn’t as impressive as TSO’s version of the same song. But once the singers came out for the subsequent songs, the band pretty much blew me away. The vocals were all in the original language (French and Italian, mostly), so I didn’t understand the lyrics to much of it. But that almost made it more enjoyable and unique sounding to me who hasn’t listened to much in other languages. Bizet’s “Habanera” was awesome, Delibes’ “Flower Duet” beautiful, Verdi’s “La Donna E Mobile” boisterous (as always), Purcell’s “When I am Laid in Earth” a bit funky, and the rest just as varied. They took more liberties with some songs than others, turning one into a club-ish dance number which, while a bit strange, was still pretty awesome. The final song was a rewritten opera-themed Eminem parody which was unexpected but impressively performed and a lot of fun.

In all, I was very impressed with the East Village Opera Company. I highly recommend you check them out, live if possible but also through their most recent self-titled album which features most of the songs they performed. They did a few from an album they’re currently recording, at least one of which I really enjoyed, so I’m looking forward to that one as well. EVOC may not be opera to some, but it’s still a rockin’ good time with some classical sophistication thrown in, all performed by some really excellent musicians.

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