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The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ opera goes classical on US tour

SCreengrab taken from YouTube video showing Quadrophenia. SCreengrab taken from YouTube video showing Quadrophenia.

NEW YORK, June 7 — The Who’s rock opera Quadrophenia will take an orchestral turn as songwriter Pete Townshend announced yesterday a four-date tour of mostly classical venues in the United States.

The orchestral Quadrophenia will feature vocals by Billy Idol — the rocker behind 1980s hits such as White Wedding and Eyes Without a Face — as well as tenor Alfie Boe, known for starring in the musical Les Miserables.

Quadrophenia, which follows the split-personality Jimmy, was a defining work of Britain’s “mod” subculture of slick and stylish young culture consumers.

The 1973 album has been a favorite of hardcore fans of The Who as well as Townshend, who is the band’s principal songwriter and lead guitarist, even though it has often been overshadowed by the band’s earlier rock opera Tommy.

The production will come to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the woods of western Massachusetts, on September 2.

It will then have two performances at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York before closing at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

Quadrophenia mixes together four musical parts that were recorded separately — representing Jimmy’s four-way split personality, which in turn reflected the different types of Who fans.

“Melding the contrasting sounds of Quadrophenia with a symphony has been a really unique and powerful way to reach a wide audience of classical and pop music lovers alike,” Townshend said in a statement.

Townshend debuted the classical version of Quadrophenia at Royal Albert Hall in a 2010 charity performance and more recently released a recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The production comes as The Who, led by the 72-year-old Townshend and 73-year-old singer Roger Daltrey, wind up what the band has described as its last major tour.

The Who, however, is not retiring and will start playing a residency in Las Vegas in July 29. — AFP

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