"We never planned to tour the first rock opera of the Christmas trilogy for 13 years in a row. It just kind of happened,” says Paul O’Neill, founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and his “Christmas Eve & Other Stories” show.
But the “Christmas Eve & Other Stories” rock opera was so popular, it proved difficult to stop. Until now.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Trilogy consists of three CD releases, “Christmas Eve & Other Stories” (1996), “The Christmas Attic” (1998), and “The Lost Christmas Eve” (2004). It’s the latter of which the band is touring this fall and winter as its annual holiday extravaganza, which returns the rock opera to Toledo for two shows, 2:30 and 7 p.m., today at Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. The 2:30 p.m. show is sold out, with remaining tickets for the 7 p.m. show priced at $40.50, $50.50, and $60.50. Tickets are available at the Huntington Center box office, 500 Jefferson Ave.; livenation.com; ticketmaster.com; Ticketmaster outlets, and by phone at 800-745-3000.
O’Neill’s agent at William Morris thought he was mad to go in a new touring direction given the success of what he had.
“Our agent [said], ‘Paul, you lucked into A Christmas Carol meets The Nutcracker. You cracked the Holy Grail, which is the Holiday Season, which is so hard to crack. Don’t mess with it, don’t mess with it.’
“But I just basically said to them, ‘I’m switching to the third rock opera, “The Lost Christmas Eve,” this year because Trans-Siberian Orchestra does not exist in a vacuum.’ ”
His agents should be pleased with the results.
“The Lost Christmas Eve” ticket sales have doubled since the same time last year, O’Neill said. The show consists of “The Lost Christmas Eve” for the first half, with the second half featuring hits from the other albums, along with songs from the group’s new EP, “Dreams of Fireflies (On A Christmas Night).”
If the core message of the first rock opera to is look out for one another, including strangers, and to try to always be kind and do the right thing, the underlying theme of “The Lost Christmas Eve” continues to push for the goodness in us all with a message of hope and redemption.
“There’s something about Dec. 24 that allows people to undo mistakes ... and I was thinking, what would be one of the biggest mistakes a human could make, and I’m like, abandoning one’s infant child. So the main character is this Wall Street banker billionaire and four decades earlier he had abandoned his infant child to the state.”
The rich banker meets a child on the street, which triggers memories of the son he abandoned, and “little by little he undoes that mistake,” and finds his son happily living on $200 a week in a single-room occupancy hotel.
“That old cliche that money can’t buy happiness, there’s a reason why it’s so cliche,” O’Neill said. “Actually a lot of times it brings you misery.”
Naturally, the Christmas-themed rock opera has a feel-good ending, considering O’Neill’s motto: “If it’s not happy, it’s not the ending.
“I just think especially with what’s been going on what people need right now is hope,” he said. “And the great thing about hope is all you do is wish for it and it’s there.”
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra shows are known for their cutting-edge lights and effects. And while the last few tours have featured catwalks that connected both ends of the stage in the arena, both stages now feature robotic arms to lift the performers out to the audience, what O’Neill called “mind-blowing.”
The band’s tours represent a rarity in concerts these days: back-to-back performances on many nights in each city.
“That happened because of Pink Floyd. It’s built on all the bands I worshipped. Queen, the Who, the Third Dimension, Pink Floyd. But the last Pink Floyd show I saw was the Pulse Tour in ’95, and the band was kind enough to give me front-row seats, and it was just mind-blowing. But as professional curiosity, I wondered what it was like in the nose bleeds. It was just as great. It was a totally different show, more cinematic,” he said. “Floyd proved to me that you could do arenas with no such thing as a bad seat. And the secret was Floyd never sold behind the stage or obstructed view.”
The long-held belief in rock and roll touring was a band sold all the good seats first, and as audience demand warranted, would release obstructed-view seats to fans who didn’t want to be left out of the experience. O’Neill, though, appreciated the Floyd notion of not selling any bad seats, which would mean fewer tickets available for concert-goers. It wasn’t an ideal situation no matter what. Then someone suggested having a matinee performance to go along with the evening show.
“That had simply never crossed our minds. Growing up in rock and roll you just assume everybody wakes up at 4 p.m. and goes to bed between 6 and 9 a.m. We all got together and discussed it as a band and that we would do in certain cities two shows in one day. Basically at the end of the year we hire a bunch of psychiatrists to help the band get over the emotional scarring from having to get up before 4. But you know, somehow we manage to muddle through it.”
Hallmark Channel Presents Trans-Siberian Orchestra at 2:30 and 7 p.m. today at Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. The matinee show is sold out, with remaining tickets for the evening show priced at $40.50, $50.50, and $60.50. Tickets are available at the Huntington Center box office, 500 Jefferson Ave.; livenation.com; ticketmaster.com; Ticketmaster outlets, and by phone at 800-745-3000.
Contact Kirk Baird firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6734.