After missing a season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has fully returned to its annual holiday tradition of epic Christmas-themed arena-rock extravaganzas.
This year, TSO is performing “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” the 2001 concert DVD that combines the most popular songs from their 1996 debut, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” and its 1998 follow-up, “The Christmas Attic.” Since that concert originally aired on PBS stations, it has become one of TSO’s most popular releases. The show comes to Toyota Arena in Ontario for two performances this holiday season on Saturday, December 3 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and includes additional TSO hits.
While The Ghosts of Christmas Eve will take up most of the first half of the show, the second part draws on selections from across the TSO catalogue. Since many of the most popular songs will be performed as part of “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” Al Pitrelli, musical director and guitarist for TSO’s western US, and Jeff Plate, drummer for TSO’s eastern company, said they ended up being seated for songs would have this year that TSO has not performed often on past tours.
During an interview last month, the duo said they couldn’t talk about how this year’s visual effects and set design will be bigger or different since they hadn’t joined the band for production rehearsals yet. TSO is known for its over-the-top scenes, lighting and elaborate pyrotechnics, and both Pitrelli and Plate said they were excited to see the full stage production for the first time.
“You look up and I always feel like a 15-year-old stepping into this arena for the first time,” Pitrelli said as the finished productions came together. “It really turns you back into a teenager. But this time I’m not being chased away by security or the police, so it’s a lot more fun to just stand there and look up and say, ‘That’s great.'”
The 2021 edition of TSO’s annual vacation tour has been an outing like no other for everyone involved in bringing the concerts to audiences across the United States. After an absence in 2020, getting back into these performances was particularly exciting.
“The absence of 2020 certainly made us realize how fortunate we are to be doing what we are doing,” Plate said.
But it was also the most challenging outing in TSO history, thanks to ongoing troubles with the virus.
“It was terrifying to say the least, because you wake up every morning and you’re like, ‘Okay, is anyone sick? Has anyone tested positive? What are we going to do? Is the crew there? Are the people in the audience okay?” Pitrelli added. “So it was definitely the most stressful tour we’ve ever been on.”
TSO took strict precautions for COVID and had emergency precautions in place should any of the cast members become infected with the virus. As Pitrelli noted, the task is to deliver the memorable concert spectacle that fans have come to expect and to ensure audiences aren’t caught off guard.
“The audience just wants their show,” Pitrelli said. “Whatever hurdles we have to overcome in order to achieve this, we will do it. So yeah, we had a few guys in the bullpen. In no time they could fly to a show or we would take each other’s roles on stage. If one of the singers was sick, one of the other singers who were there would cover the song.
“The show has to go on here, too,” he said.
Since its inception in 1996, TSO’s shows have grown to be some of the largest and most lavish of holiday tours. It was all the vision of the group’s founder, Paul O’Neill, who died in 2017. His idea for TSO was to combine a rock band with an orchestra and record and perform concept albums and rock operas with coherent storylines. Rather than building an image around a singer, guitarist, or conductor, the ensemble would employ multiple singers and a range of instrumentalists who would remain largely anonymous to listeners.
Many industry experts questioned whether TSO could be financially viable. Taking such a large musical group with you on trips would be expensive. To do justice to the visual production, TSO had to play arenas from the start, something no other musical act had done. Despite this, Atlantic Records went along with O’Neill’s vision and signed TSO.
The label has been rewarded as TSO’s themed Christmas albums have all become hits and continue to rank in the top 10 for Christmas album sales each season. “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”, which spawned the hit single “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24”, sold over 3 million copies and set the stage for the other two festive rock operas that make up TSO’s Christmas trilogy – “The Christmas Attic” and “The Lost Christmas Eve” – to over 2 million copies sold.
In addition, the group has released a Christmas EP, 2012’s Dreams of Fireflies (On A Christmas Night) and three full-length non-holiday rock operas: Beethoven’s Last Night (2000), Night Castle” (2009). ) and “Letters from the Labyrinth” (2015). In total, TSO CDs and DVDs have sold more than 12 million copies and generated 180 million streams in 2021 alone.
According to its producers, since the first holiday tour in 1999, TSO has played to approximately 18 million fans and the shows have grossed approximately US$725 million.
“Paul (O’Neill) has told us many, many, many times that this thing will outlive us all and last from generation to generation,” Plate said. “To think for a moment that it would be without him was not on our minds. When it’s happened, it’s like, ‘Well folks, we know what to do. We know what the job is.’ We know Paul has asked certain things of us over the years, and you get to know what the guy expects from you and the show and everyone involved with the show. We protect this just like everyone else. I appreciate every note we play every time we go out there. We’re not just doing it for the audience, we’re doing it for Paul and his family, and it means a lot to us.”
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”
When: 3pm and 7:30pm Saturday 3 December
Where: Toyota Arena, 4000 Ontario Center, Ontario
Tickets: From $69.50 at Ticketmaster.com
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/21/trans-siberian-orchestra-will-bring-its-extended-ghosts-of-christmas-eve-show-to-ontario/ The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is bringing its expanded show Ghosts of Christmas Eve to Ontario – Orange County Register