The Los Angeles Rock Opera Company is committed to presenting and producing classic rock operas as well as encouraging the further development of the art form, by commissioning the creation of new works that embrace a variety genres of popular music, including rock, pop, r&b, electronica and world music. We strive to develop new audiences for opera by introducing the operatic experience to younger generations through music they are already passionate about. We also work with traditional opera companies to expand the concept of opera to include interesting and challenging works by composers and ensembles from the world of popular music. Our performers and ensembles reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of Los Angeles, and our productions incorporate cutting edge visual and audio technology, making it possible to perform in alternative spaces here in the city and cost-effectively create touring productions to bring rock opera to audiences throughout the world.


Simply put, a rock opera is a work of rock music that presents a dramatic story told over multiple songs in the traditional manner of opera. The songs are usually presented in the form of a record album unified by a common theme or narrative.

Many rock operas have never been staged as theatrical works, and exist only as audio musical works. For this reason, rock operas are often considered a subset of the concept album, and although many concept albums do not follow a specific story line, the ones that do follow a narrative blur the lines between rock opera and concept album even more. Some examples would be “Aqualung” and “Thick As a Brick” by Jethro Tull, “Berlin” by Lou Reed and “OK Computer” by Radiohead.

We are often asked what is the difference between rock opera and rock musical theater. In essence a rock opera (like a traditional opera) is a story that is told entirely through singing, while musical theater usually has spoken dialog as well as songs. Even in sung-through musicals, the songs are always in service of the plot of the story, while in rock opera, the plot could be vague, and (intentionally) open to interpretation. Some rock operas have been transformed into musical theater pieces, with the demands of the story and staging requiring re-writing the music to service the plot. The most famous example of this is probably “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice, which started as a concept album, and then was developed into a Broadway musical. Often rock musical theater shows use the sounds of rock music in their scores, with the composition styles more closely following Broadway tradition and not classic pop and rock song forms, which do not easily translate into drama-centric interpretation and staging. Some examples include “Hair”,”Rent”, “Grease”, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Spring Awakening”.

At LA Rock Opera, we are committed to presenting rock operas in their original form as intended by the artists who create them, rather than use them as a framework to develop musical theater pieces aimed for Broadway. Stephen Sondheim once famously said that the difference between opera and musical theater is where it is performed – if it is in an opera house, it is an opera, and if it is in a theater, it is musical theater. This could also be true of rock operas, that seem to find their biggest audiences in concert venues, clubs and alternative performance spaces. We also expand the concept to include not just strictly rock, but many styles of popular music that have evolved from rock n roll, including pop, soul, rap, alternative, folk and even electronica and dance music.

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