Interview: Trans-Siberian Orchestra bringing new holiday rock opera to Oklahoma City Saturday
A version of this story appears on the cover of Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings “Lost Christmas Eve” to Oklahoma City
A yuletide favorite, the progressive rock band is telling a new holiday tale with its stage spectacle.
That’s why Paul O’Neill experienced a rare case of nerves at the outset of the progressive rock band’s winter tour, which is coming to Chesapeake Energy Arena for two shows Saturday. After 13 years, TSO’s founder, producer and writer decided to change rock operas for this holiday season.
“For the Christmas trilogy, we never intended to tour the first one for 13 years in a row.
It just kind of happened. And when I told William Morris (Agency, which represents TSO) we were gonna switch to ‘The Lost Christmas Eve,’ they were like, ‘No, you can’t. This is like “A Christmas Carol.” It’s “The Nutcracker.” It’s tradition. It’s not broken, don’t fix it,’” O’Neill said in a phone interview this week from his hometown of New York City.
“I was positive to switch rock operas this winter was the right move, but when your agents are fighting you that hard, you get a little nervous. So I was like buying Tums and Rolaids by the gallon from the pharmacy.”
Instead of retelling “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” the rock opera based on the band’s 1996 debut album, Trans-Siberian Orchestra this season is making “The Lost Christmas Eve” the centerpiece of its stage spectacle, which incorporates a string section, several singers, pyrotechnics, lasers and a light show.
It’s easy to understand why the prospect of change would unsettle O’Neill’s agents: TSO has played live to more than 9 million people and grossed in excess of $350 million since the band’s first tour in 1999. More than 1 million people saw the group in concert in 2011, and the ensemble has sold 8.5 million albums.
“I just thought the story of ‘The Lost Christmas Eve’ would resonate better with our fans, especially with what’s going on in the world right now,” O’Neill said, referring to the 2004 rock opera based on the third and final LP of the band’s Christmas trilogy.
“If you live long enough, you’re eventually gonna know somebody who hasn’t talked to a parent, a sibling, a friend, a co-worker in decades and there’s something about December 24th that they can pick up the phone and say ‘I can’t even remember what we were fighting about’ or ‘what we were fighting about was so stupid’ or ‘can’t we just hit reset?’”
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