BWW Review: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA LIVE at Fairfield Center Stage
On Saturday, February 9, 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing A NIGHT AT THE OPERA LIVE, produced by Fairfield Center Stage and performed at The Acoustic in Bridgeport, CT. Fairfield Center Stage has yet again mesmerized the audience by bringing a uniquely fresh and exciting feeling to something that many audience members may be very familiar with, in its original context, in this case, an album by Queen, originally released in 1975.
I have been to many music concerts before, but this is the first time I have ever seen an entire album performed from start to finish like this, a concept that I truly enjoyed, and hope to see more of, in the future. The talented cohesive six piece band, harmonious onstage choir, and rotating cast of strong lead singers truly bring forward a musical experience so breathtakingly powerful that it makes you question, "Is this the real life; is this just fantasy?"
With a legendary band such as Queen, the passing of the lead singer can often signify the end of any meaningful new music or live shows, thus leaving the tribute concerts as the closest that fans can get to experiencing a live concert of the original band. Fairfield Center Stage, under executive producer Eli Newsom has provided the best Queen tribute that I have ever seen, by assembling this large ensemble cast of first-rate musicians whose hard work and cooperation shine forth radiantly, as does their enjoyment of this performance.
Musical Director Charles Casimaro leads this remarkable band, on bass, with Gabe Nappi on drums, McNeil Johnston on violin, Josh Sette on keyboard, and with John Taylor and Brendan Stavris on guitars that are specifically tuned to the exact timbre used by Brian May of Queen.
The vocalists bring so much power and energy, often perfectly recreating the sound of Freddie Mercury's voice, as well as the sound of the Queen harmonies. The vocalists include Marcelo Calderon, Christian Cardozo, Nick Carrano, Brian Crook, Jeramie Gladman, Lance Gray, Nick Kuell, Christy McIntosh-Newsom, Maggie Meath, Kevin Pelkey, Avery Owens, Jacqui Owens, Everton Ricketts, Leondra Smith-West, Garth West, and Alexis Willoughby.
Having been born after the album was initially released, I became familiar with "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1992, when it experienced an American mainstream music charts revival, after appearing in the movie Wayne's World. There is no doubt that the song has the staying power to reach generation after generation, innovatively merging opera with rock in a cohesive manner with wide appeal. Despite the layered musical complexity of the song, I was delighted to see Fairfield Center Stage totally nail it, as if it was the world's easiest song to recreate live. With the rest of the audience, I was truly impressed.
Another highlight for me, since it is one of my absolute favorite Queen songs, is "'39" a song that's sound and feeling was captured well by Fairfield Center Stage with Marcelo Calderon on vocal and guitar. This musically brilliant folk influenced Brian May number tells the heartbreaking fictional tale of a man who went on a space voyage that to him and the volunteers with him lasted only one year, while a hundred years passed on Earth. You can't help to feel that pain of this man forced to accept that his now much older (at least 100 years old) daughter and his now deceased wife's letters in the sand are all that remain of the beautiful life he was expecting to return to.
Fairfield Center Stage provided a bonus encore of the Queen classic "Somebody To Love," as well as a segment from "We Are The Champions," to end what was a wonderful night for all who were involved.
While this was a one night performance, we can look forward to some more excellent productions from Fairfield Center Stage, including their up and coming show Dreamgirls, which is scheduled to open on March 1. For the Fairfield Center Stage website, please go to https://www.fairfieldcenterstage.org/.