As “the ultimate misanthrope curmudgeon” is forced to walk home to his Park Avenue apartment on Christmas Eve, he encounters “all the wacky inhabitants you can only bump into in New York City,” O'Neill said.
Along the way, he is able little by little to undo his tragic mistake.
In keeping with TSO tradition, the first half of this year's production is dedicated to the new rock opera. The second half mixes up hits from the band's other albums, cuts from its new holiday EP “Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)” and samplings from upcoming records.
In the prog rock band's usual eclectic style, the new five-song offering fuses hard rock and heavy metal with other sonic influences ranging from Vivaldi to gospel.
“(It) was our way of saying thank you to the fans,” O'Neill said, adding the band's new label, Universal Republic, agreed to sell the EP for less than $5.
“Dreams of Fireflies” also will be Trans-Siberian Orchestra's last Christmas album for awhile, he said. The group is working on four upcoming non-holiday releases: “Gutter Ballet,” “Letters from the Labyrinth,” “Running in the Passion of the Fairytale Moon” and “Romanov: When Kings Must Whisper.” The latter was originally planned as TSO's debut album in 1994, and O'Neill said it is now 80 percent finished.
“I learned a long time ago, when you have the right vocal for the right song, record it and get it in the can,” he said.
“They're fun to write ... they're fun to record, but it's not real until you get to perform it in front of a live audience.”
So far, audiences have approved O'Neill's decision to launch the new holiday rock opera.
“Ticket sales are double digits ahead of last year, the fans are loving it, the reviews have been great,” he said. “I'm like ‘whew.' Now I gotta see if I can get the pharmacy to take all these Tums back.”