Baltimore Rock Opera Society
|Motto||In Panton Redundo|
|Type||Rock opera theatrical company|
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) is an official 501c3 non-profit organization as of April 2015. BROS was established in 2007 by a small group of friends in a basement: Aran Keating, John DeCampos, Dylan Koehler, Eli Breitburg-Smith and Jared Margulies. They opened their first performance, Gründlehämmer, at 2640 Space located in Baltimore in 2009. BROS are a passionate community of artists who create live original rock theater.
Since its inception, BROS has become an anchor institution for Baltimore’s cultural and arts landscape. The group is composed of a highly energetic volunteer actors, writers, designers, builders, musicians, and artists with the mission of producing original, live rock operas. They hold open auditions for all their mainstage shows, including band auditions.
Starting in 2011, BROS launched pitch parties, in which they asked the Baltimore community for ideas and suggestions on future rock operas. BROS Headquarters (HQ), where they currently operate, is located on the first floor of the Bell Foundry. The Bell Foundry is a multi-purpose, cooperatively run performance and rehearsal space specializing in a community garden, skate park, upstairs print shop.
As of August 2015, BROS is working on their seventh original production, CHRONOSHRED. The group currently performs in various venues in Baltimore, Washington DC and Philadelphia.
Rock Operas and Events
Rock Opera 6-Pack
The Rock Opera 6-Pack debuted in May 2015 at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. The 6-pack was a new format for the BROS: a collection of six one-act rock operas, 25 minutes each, split into two weekends. "A" Weekend featured Determination of Azimuth, Revival, and Sidelines. "B" Weekend featured Battle at Apple Crossing, Legend of Jessie Jean, and RATS!
At Artscape 2015, the 6-Pack was remounted in BROCEAN CITY located on Charles Street. BROCEAN CITY not only featured the five of the 6-pack, but included local bands, puppet shows, and air guitar battles atop the BRÖTHERSHIP, a converted 1988 Saab 900.
- Determination of Azimuth: was created by Eric Church and Heather Graham and directed by Lola Pierson. The show is the story of Katherine Johnson, who rose above barriers of race and gender and became a famous mathematician of the Apollo program.
- Revival was directed by Craig Coletta and composed by Samuel Burt. The opera features a faith healer at a tent revival who encounters a demon that has possessed a young child.
- Sidelines was written, directed and composed by Jack Sossman. The opera features many aspects of sports including “glorious victories, crushing defeats, last-minute-plays, training montages, and foot-stomping anthemic glam rock.”
- The Battle of Blue Apple Crossing was created and composed by Nairobi Collins and directed by Sarah “Flash” Gorman. The opera is a retelling of the legend of Robert Johnson at the crossroads where a talented blues musician is the victim of a lynching and his soul becomes the subject of a battle of wits and strength between the Christian devil and the African trickster god Legba.
- The Legend of Jessie Jean was created and directed by Matt Casella. The opera is dark Western folk tale where outlaws swap campfire stories of a ruthless bounty hunter hell-bent on bringing criminals to justice featuring shadowplay.
- RATS! was created and co-composed by Naomi Davidoff, and Andres Lobo and directed by Amanda Rife. The opera was a punk/garage-rock parody of a popular Broadway show. RATS! told the story of a motley crew of hard-rocking rodents just trying to dance, party and fall in love – with a sinister exterminator on their tails.
In November 2014 at 2640 Space in Baltimore, BROS collaborated with the Concert Artists of Baltimore (CAB) on Convergence Maximus, to produce a mix of classical greats such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and select songs from past BROS shows such as Valhella. These were arranged to include CAB’s professional orchestra and choir.
From March to April 2014 at 2460 Space in Baltimore, MD, The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA and The Ruba Club in Philadelphia, BROS re-imagined and transformed their original production, Gründlehämmer. This remount was again directed by Aran Keating.
In October 2009 and February 2010 at 2640 Space in Baltimore, BROS first performed Gründlehämmer.
In May 2013 at the Autograph Playhouse in Baltimore, MD, BROS debuted their fifth feature-length rock opera, Murdercastle, written by Jared Margulies and directed by Barbara Geary.
Valhella: The Ragnarøkkoperetta
In May 2012 at the Autograph Playhouse in Baltimore, MD, BROS debuted their fourth feature-length rock opera, Valhella, written by Jen Tydings and directed by Aran Keating.
Valhella was loosely adapted from Norse mythology and executed in pursuit of what composer Richard Wagner called Gesamtkunstwerk – “that mashup of spectacle, ritual, dance, music, theater and other artsy stuff that is opera at its most extreme.” The opera used large puppets, hand-drawn animation, intricate sets with a full-scale World tree and featured a soundtrack that ranged from traditional Norse folk music to power metal. Vahella was considered a monumental leap forward in the BROS’ production value. All eight shows sold out, which prompted the BROS to add a ninth encore presentation at midnight on 20 May 2012, which also sold out. The opera was well reviewed by the Washington Post.
As an all-volunteer company, BROS has attracted the support of the surrounding community. Those involved in the productions range from individuals with experience in the theater world to complete amateurs. In 2012 Baltimore City Paper named Baltimore Rock Opera Society “Best DIY Theater Company” in Baltimore.
There is currently a feature-length documentary film being produced about the BROS and the Murdercastle production. The film is being directed by Human Being Productions and being produced by the digital magazine What Weekly. It will feature original animation and interviews in addition to the footage of the production.
- "The Rock Opera 6-Pack". baltimorerockopera.org. Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Convergence Maximus". www.cabmusic.org. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Gründlehämmer 2014". baltimorerockopera.org. Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Gründlehämmer 2009/2010". baltimorerockopera.org. Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "MURDERCASTLE". baltimorerockopera.org. Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Valhella: The Ragnarøkkoperetta". baltimorerockopera.org. Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- http://citypaper.com/arts/stage/em-valhella-em-1.1315766 http://whatweekly.com/2012/05/17/valhella/
- "Closer Inspection: Rock this way". The Washington Post. 3 May 2012. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- Andrew L. Baughman (29 May 2011). "The BROS Double Feature at Showtime Theatre: Rock Achieved!". Maryland Theatre Guide. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- Michael Byrne (30 September 2009). "Tales of Brotopia: The Baltimore Rock Opera Society drops Gründlehämmer". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- "Projects". Human Being Productions. Retrieved 15 August 2015.