Rock opera. Wait, don’t panic. Granted, the idea of someone’s attempting yet again to fuse rock with some vague notion of the operatic (not rock, basically) triggers a justifiable punch-ducking, or duck-punching, reflex on our part. Why can’t rockers just stay in their expansive yards? Damon Albarn is a rocker (Blur, Gorillaz) who has created an opera (Monkey: Journey to the West), and — guess what? — it’s an embarrassment of riches.
Co-created with Chinese actor-director Chen Shi-Zheng and Albarn’s Gorillaz partner Jamie Hewlett, the extravagantly conceived show is a retelling of 16th-century China’s Monkey King tale — complete with singing, high-flying acrobatics, plate-spinning, and eye-popping video animation. If you missed the celebrated world tour, then you’ll just have to settle for the wildly eclectic, East-West-mashing score (CD available on 9/23, but you can get it on iTunes now). It’s both bananas and beautiful — especially numbers like “Heavenly Peach Banquet.” Not your granddad’s opera, Monkey may well be your grandkids’.
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