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Global voices unite for an L.A. `Popera'

May 08, 2006|Lynne Heffley

Love it or hate it, "popera" has arrived. The crowd-pleasing vocal hybrid -- classical opera technique tweaked with pop ballad stylings -- has lofted such practitioners as Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman as well as Il Divo, the quartet slickly marketed by "American Idol's" Simon Cowell, to stellar heights.

Fans and newbies can catch a home-grown version of this alt-opera phenomenon at "Experience ... Popera," a live performance and special-effects stage extravaganza Thursday at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

Choreographed and orchestrated around its headliner, male soprano Krassimir, and his recent "Popera" CD, the event lineup includes the SuperDevoiche UCLA Bulgarian Women's Choir, solo jazz violinist and Yanni tour luminary Karen Briggs, stilt virtuoso Trey Knight and his Stilt World company -- ballet, modern and folk dancers who perform on stilts -- L.A.-based taiko drum group Zendeko and Indian dancer Shriji Rasalia.

Also on the bill: Spanish and Indian guitarists, a djembe drummer, a children's choir and assorted other dancers and orchestral and pop musicians.

The Bulgarian-born, single-moniker Krassimir is as eclectic as the show's lineup. A singer who boasts a four-octave range and a pop star's following in his native country, he still pursues his first career as a professional mime, and teaches drama and mime as a faculty member of L.A.'s Colburn School.

"Popera," Krassimir declares via his busy cellphone, "is a combination of different sounds. It reflects the world."

Unity, his show's overall theme, will be reflected in his original songs, including "Madness of Greatness."

"It's about the people who are greedy for power," he explains. "We're living in a world where you see so much pain in every aspect of life. My idea is to say no more aggression in this world. So we have over 90 people playing, dancing and singing with me. We have artists from different ethnicities, from Japanese taiko drummers to Indian dancers and a Russian violinist.

"It's about hitting the people's hearts," he adds, referring to his ability to soar into soprano range, "rather than trying to show how amazing you are or how high you can go. Uniting nations, peace and love -- they are the No. 1 thing in my life."

-- Lynne Heffley

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