Alexander Kariotis and The Rock Opera Orchestra
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Alexander Kariotis and The Rock Opera Orchestra


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"Alexander Kariotis touches your heart"
Chicago Sun-Times

"Stunning vocals and gracious demeanor"
New City Chicago

"Stunning and innovative . . . Alexander
Kariotis brought the audience to a standing ovation."
Upstage Magazine

"Alexander Kariotis' artistry genuinely moves"
Copley News Service

"Alexander Kariotis is a golden voiced stud."
National Post Toronto

"Alexander Kariotis can deliver"
Globe and Mail Toronto

"Alexander, you sound fantastic!"
Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winning songwriter - Various Publications


Here's to the Arts Cafe Concert
August 27, 2007
Review by Linda Oatman High

Upstage Magazine: Linda Oatman High

It was all about the music in Maplewood, New Jersey, when the backyard garden of Here's 2 The Arts Café was transformed into a summer's night delight for music lovers. Packed to capacity with an all-ages crowd, the concert was under darkening skies as tabletop candles flickered and patrons filled the venue's lawn chairs.

Headlining the evening's entertainment was the stunning and innovative Alexander Kariotis and the Rock Opera Orchestra. Tenor Alex Kariotis astounded the audience with a unique mix of rock and opera, backed up by his 9-piece band: Jerry Cordasco on drums/percussion, bassist Clyde Bullard, guitarists Peter Seckel and Keith Beck, electric violinist Diane Montalbine, keyboardist and musical director Mitch Samu, and beautiful backup vocals by Aimee Willis, Caitie Galardi, and Michael Barretti.

Backed not only by his band, Kariotis utilizes a screen behind the stage, upon which is projected images, words, and translations of opera lyrics. The Rock Opera Roll Orchestra lit up the night with amazing entertainment that included the bittersweet "Lennon in Heaven," English-Italian selections such as Nessun Dorma, and a powerful cover of "The Flame," a Cheap Trick '80s hit dedicated to Alex's late brother.

Candles glowed on-screen, and two candles placed on the stage were tributes to Alex' late brother, as well as to bassist Bullard's mother, who'd passed away only a week before the performance.

Moving the audience to tears and lighters held to the sky, the Cheap Trick cover was a distinctive addition to a set list that also included the first act aria from "Tosca" and a rendition of Nat King Cole's "Answer Me My Love."

The finale was the rousing "Recitar . . . Vesti La Giubba," belted out by Alex in a white satin clown suit. Bringing the enthusiastic audience to a standing ovation, the Italian aria sections blended seamlessly with the rock and roll beats.

Alexander Kariotis and the Rock and Roll Orchestras' sound is flawless, and the delivery tight. The group has a definite chemistry, and Alexander Kariotis' magnetic charisma connects him effortlessly to the crowd. With a stage presence that commands, and a confidence stemming from years of study and experience, the singer and his musicians are sure to go far. Luckily, the rain held off for the evening, and the music lit up the night.
- Linda Oatman High


This opera troupe really rocks
September 14, 2007
By Jeff Theodore
Click here for online article

If you want to embarass Alexander Kariotis, say that he's walking in the footsteps of the recently departed tenor Luciano Pavarotti. He turns beat red and vehemently urges you to cut it out.

But the number of ways that the paths of Kariotis and Pavarotti have crossed is striking - no matter how much Kariotis denies it.

First, Pavarotti was the first opera star Kariotis ever saw in concert. Then, as a student at the Mannes Conservatory in New York City, Kariotis got a chance to be in the presence of Pavarotti, when the tenor paid a visit to the U.S. to perform at Carnegie Hall.

"The first time we talked it was like we had always known each other," recalls Kariotis, who lives in Maplewood. "We weren't like buddies or anything but it was neat to be around a guy like that."

Soon after, Kariotis earned raves as a semifinalist in an opera competition in Milan, Italy, and went on to study under Arrigo Pola, Pavarotti's voice coach. And in a final twist of fate, Pavarotti passed away Sept. 6, which is Kariotis' birthday.

Unlike Pavarotti, though, Kariotis is a rocker too. Through his 11-member rock opera orchestra, he is breaking new ground with a sound that he says is more genuine than most. Kariotis and his crew practice in a Jersey City wine warehouse, where they'll put on a show Thursday.

"Doing this music gives me a chance to do what I love with both opera and rock," Kariotis says. "And not in some hokey way, like some groups that may be doing it as a gimmick. Opera and rock have been a big part of my life."

In large measure, Kariotis' brother, Tony, is responsible for shaping Kariotis' musical development. While the pair were growing up in a Chicago suburb, Kariotis would follow his older brother around as he traveled on gigs throughout the Midwest with the band Gambler.

"Wherever the band played, I played and would open up shows for them with my rock songs," Kariotis says. "My brother was one of those kind of rock and roll guys who was into the art of writing songs, not into all the sex and drugs stuff."

Tony Kariotis was the first to realize that his kid brother had something different about his voice. So, he arranged to take him to see Pavarotti that first time.

"There was just something about his voice," Kariotis says, recalling his initial Pavarotti experience. "My brother saw how excited I was about it and encouraged me to go into opera all the way."

One of Pavarotti's maxims that sticks out in Kariotis' mind is that opera singers should forever remain students of their craft.

"He'd (Pavarotti) say you're either going to find your voice or lose it trying," Kariotis says.

In the prime of his opera career, Kariotis lost his biggest advocate: elder brother, Tony, died after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

"My wife and I were in Europe performing at opera houses when I found out my brother was dying," Kariotis says. "When I would visit him in Chicago, he would tell me, 'Get back out there. I'm dying.' When he died, a big chunk of me went with him."

Kariotis says his big brother would give a thumbs up to his rock opera orchestra.

"I think this is another chance for me to hang out with him again," he says. - JERSEY JOURNAL


Opera-rock fusion
August 23, 2007
By Peter Filichia
Click here for online article

Alexander Kariotis and the Rock Opera Orchestra. Where: Burgdorff Cultural Center, 10 Durand Road, Maplewood. When: 8 p.m. Friday. How much: $18; $15 students and seniors. Call (973) 762-0119 or visit HERE.

It isn't every concert that offers such selections as "Non T'Amo Piu" and "Lucky in Love," or one where "Because of You" is followed by "Pagliacci."

Those are some of the songs that will fill the Burgdorff Cultural Center in Maplewood on Friday night, courtesy of Alexander Kariotis and the Rock Opera Orchestra.

"Rock opera" conjures images and sounds of The Who's "Tommy" or Pink Floyd's "The Wall." That's not, however, what songwriter Kariotis has written. He'll offer 12 songs that incorporate elements of rock and opera, mix Italian and English, and forge a new sound. Sections of Puccini, Massenet and Leoncavallo arias will be fused with sheer Kariotis.

He'll sing, switch between piano and guitar, and will be backed up by an 11-piece band and three backing singers. In the latter group is Aimee Willis, to whom Kariotis has been married for 14 years. They live in Maplewood with their three children. "So this is an ideal and convenient spot to break in the show before we go to New York," he says.

Kariotis is enthusiastic about both musical forms, though he was interested in rock long before he became acquainted with opera.

It started when his 20-year-old brother Tony formed a rock group called Gambler. Tony would leave the Kariotis home in Elmhurst, Ill., and play in surrounding states. Alexander admits that he, as a 13-year-old, had a great deal of hero worship for his brother, who has great affection for him, too. "My brother was really my father, even when my father was still around -- before he ran off with my piano teacher." He shrugs at the thought that he lost both at the same time. "She wasn't that good a piano teacher," he says.

Tony suggested that Alexander come along and play back-up on some gigs. Alexander says his brother did rock¤'n' roll, but not the rampant sex and drugs associated with the music. "He was just into the music, wanting to get his songs out there, recorded by himself and other people, too," Kariotis says.

Yet, when Kariotis was a senior in high school, his brother took him aside. Recalls Alexander, "He said, 'Your voice is different from mine, something prettier, with more talent than there is in mine. Let me be the rock guy, and you sing something like the guy I'll take you to see tonight.'"

"The guy" was Luciano Pavarotti, and the concert rocked Alexander's world. He would eventually train to be an opera singer at Western Illinois University, the Mannes College of Music, UCLA and Northwestern. Then he headed to Berlin, where he played such roles as Nemorino in "The Elixir of Love," Cavaradossi in "Tosca," and Rudolfo in "La Boheme." That he also met Willis in Germany added to the excitement.

Soon after they were married, disaster struck both of them. "We were in great places in our careers, but then Aimee's brother-in-law got AIDS, and Tony got Lou Gehrig's Disease. So we came home."

He pauses, looks down, then up again. "He died 11 years ago this month. Just a few days before he died, I broke down, saying I didn't want him to go, how I wouldn't know what to do with my life. And he said, 'The cool thing about dying is that now I'll get to hang out with a lot of great rock n' rollers. I'll get to talk to John Lennon -- and I'll get to watch over you."

That's why on Friday night, Kariotis will sing a song he wrote called, "Lennon in Heaven."




Avery Fisher Hall
New York City

Berlin Philharmonic Hall
Berlin, Germany

Royal Alexander Theater
Toronto, Canada

Dupont Theater
Wilmington, Delaware

Proctors Theatre
Schenectady, New York

The Zipper Theatre
New York City

Piedmont Opera
Winston Salem, North Carolina

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
Evanston, Illinois

Berlin, Germany

Puccini Hall
Milan, Italy

The Roxy
Los Angeles, California

Northlight Theater
Skokie, Illinois

Live Radio Brandenburgh
Berlin, Germany

Royce Hall
Los Angeles, California

Chautauqua Symphony Hall
Chautauqua, New York

Chautauqua Opera
Chautauqua, New York

Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago, Illinois

Gulf Coast Opera
Biloxi, Mississippi

The Laurie Beechman Theatre
New York City

The Paramount Theater
New York

The Belt Theater
New York City

The Victory Theater
Los Angeles, California

Schoenberg Concert Hall
Los Angeles, California

Jan Popper Hall
Los Angeles, California

Downers Grove Symphony
Chicago, Illinois

Pompton Lakes Theater
Pompton Lakes, New Jersey

12 Miles West Theater
Bloomfield, New Jersey

Burgdorff Cultural Center
Maplewood, New Jersey

Freud Playhouse
Los Angeles, California

Regenstein Hall
Evanston, Illinois

Lutkin Hall
Evanston, Illinois

Watchung Performing Arts Center
Watchung, New Jersey

Chicago Arts Center
Chicago, Illinois

Berlin, Germany

Jesus Christus Kirche
Berlin, Germany



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"Amazing!" "Innovative!" "Stunning!" "Astounding!"

The press has spoken!

In concert after concert, The Rock Opera Orchestra has been wowing audiences of all ages and receiving standing ovations. As you are no doubt aware, the popularity of "classical crossover" is skyrocketing, but Alexander Kariotis and the Rock Opera Orchestra redefines the genre.

For the first time, you have a rock and roll singer/songwriter who has been classically trained in Opera by Arrigo Pola (Luciano Pavarotti's voice teacher, Modena, Italy), Gianni Raimondi (La Scala, Italy), Dan Marek (Mannes Conservatory, Metropolitan Opera), John Wustman and Nico Castel(Metropolitan Opera), to name a few.

Alexander Kariotis has performed internationally as a leading tenor in various operas, symphony concerts and Broadway tours, both here and in Europe.