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Vagabond Opera at Jefferson State

A Portland ensemble brings bohemian operatic Eastern-Euro cabaret to Ashland on Thursday, Oct. 19, sung in 10 languages.

Where else do you have a trained operatic tenor that straps on an accordion, singing in Arabic, Spanish, Yiddish, French and Italian?

Somewhere between a 1920s European cabaret, a neo-classical Opera, a Balkan wedding band and old world Yiddish Theater is the six piece ensemble, Vagabond Opera.

Having shared stages and players with Pink Martini, the Decembrists, Al Franken, and The Oregon Symphony, Vagabond Opera will bring their theatrical mix of eclectic music to the stage Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Jefferson State Pub, located at 31 Water Street. The show starts at 9 p.m. For more info call (541) 482-7718.

Vagabond Opera was created in 2002 by European trained opera singer Eric Stern. Then disillusioned with the classical opera world, Stern started what would become a new context for opera performance combined with a penchant for world cultures.

This is not the opera of grandparents and ancestors, but a visceral artistic ensemble that features powerful instrumental performances on accordion, saxophones, cello, bass and drums in support of the vocal presence of the tenor and soprano.

Vagabond Opera is at the vanguard of a growing popularity in the Neo-cabaret phenomenon, sparked by groups such as Cirque du Soleil, Gogol Bordello and Devotchka.

Through their theatrical performances, lyrics from over 10 countries, and eclectic repertoire, Vagabond Opera liberates opera from its usual construct, and maintains an expanding musical biodiversity.

As band leader Eric Stern puts "This is Opera re-interpreted for the rest of us."

The ensemble delivers an eclectic mix of original and traditional compositions, unified by an old-world mood, including elements of early Ellington, tango, Ukrainian folk-punk, klezmer, New Orleans and Parisian jazz, Balkan, Arabic belly dance and neo-classical and 1920's cabaret style.

Vagabond Opera embraces these vigorous strains of musical expression from our world culture while stylistically and compositionally reclaiming much of their elements in a new way.

The band has two full-length releases, available at their website

"Everything about them is first-class: the music, the band, the voices, the arrangements ... Listening to Vagabond Opera is like taking a trip back in time and into the future at the very same time, and that ain't easy!" &

WNWR, Philadelphia.