Tobias Sammet's Avantasia first live album The Flying Opera - Around the World in 20 Days was released on DVD (and other packages) in Europe and Japan this past March. Label Nuclear Blast passed on the CD version, essentially the soundtrack, to this American reviewer only several weeks ago. I'm not sure the States can get the release except by a (rather expensive) import. But, for diehard Tobi, Avantasia, and Edguy fans, it might be worth the extra bucks.
Let's get the details away first. This live set was recorded in 2008 at Monsters of Rock and Wacken Open Air in support of the Scarecrow album. Sammet is supported by his collaborators, some of the finest in the European melodic metal scene. The who's who list includes, and this a short list: longtime cohorts Sascha Peth (g) and Felix Bohnke (d, Edguy), but also Oliver Hartmann, Amanda Somerville, Cloudly Yang, Miro, with touring guests Jorn Lande, Andre Matos, Bob Catley, and Kai Hansen.
Honestly, anything that Tobi Sammet and Avantasia would do in a live context I would compare to Edguy's Burning Down the Opera, my favorite live album of the 21st century. The Flying Opera comes close to the same caliber. Sammet, as expected, is in his most blissfully cocky and theatrical persona. He's cajoling, conversational, and cagey as he engages the the audience throughout this performance. The band is tight, and even though this is not a perennial or permanent gig, all guest performers give their enthusiastic best.
As to the songs, Sammet draws from the history of Avantasia besides promoting Scarecrow and its predecessors Lost in Space Parts I & II. Actually, Sammet relies heavily on The Metal Opera Part I including Reach Out for the Light, Serpents in Paradise, Farewell, Sign of the Cross, and fan favorites Inside (coaxing the audience to sing along) and Avantasia (often included in an Edguy set).
But new classics (of the current time) are offered including Twisted Mind, Another Angel Down, and my top picks, The Story Ain't Over and Lost in Space. Unfortunately, my digital promo copy from Nuclear Blast was skewed. The second to last track Farewell was cut short and the closing medley of Sign Of The Cross/The Seven Angels was completely missing. This accounts for less than stunning rating. But don't let his skew your interest.
Essentially, and to conclude, The Flying Opera is a good live set. Although not current, it will be the only live representation we have of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia until wishes to do it again at a future time.
I'm hoping the DVD will be available in the States in a region-free NTSC format. Otherwise, to my European readers: if you're a fan get the DVD/CD set; with little doubt, I suspect you will not be disappointed. Recommended.
The Flying Opera is the first live recording for Tobia Sammet's Avantasia, and it's a good one. Thanks to a solid cast, including many of his studio collaborators, the live performance is quite entertaining. And, of course, Tobi is his same flamboyant extravagant self.
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