Like other TSO shows, "Beethoven's Last Night" is a mix of Broadway, rock 'n' roll and classical music. It tells the tale of composer Ludwig Van Beethoven and his mythical 10th Symphony.
Even without TSO adding to it, Beethoven's story is legendary. The volatile composer wrote some of the most recognizable music in history, much of it while losing his hearing or after he'd gone completely deaf.
Among his works, Beethoven wrote nine official symphonies. A tenth, mostly musical sketches and notes, remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1827. Since then, legends have grown about a finished symphony existing somewhere.
"Beethoven's Last Night" considers that the composer finished the symphony on the eve of his death.
"Then we added a Robert Johnson-esque aspect to the story," said Pitrelli, referencing the early American blues singer. "The devil comes to bargain for Beethoven's immortal soul."
Deals with the devil are a familiar and favorite storyline in rock music. Pitrelli said this tale is a dark story but also a beautiful one. There's tragedy, but it's uplifting. He added that the musical styling of the show (classical meets heavy metal) fits very well with the source material.
"You just listen to the opening of Beethoven's Fifth," he said. "That, toe to toe, is as heavy as anything Black Sabbath did. If anything, it got the whole heavy thing started."
The challenge for TSO, he said, isn't to make the classical works sound metal and modern but to articulate Beethoven's music the way it should be while the stage around the performers burns.
Pitrelli said, "That's something Chopin and Beethoven never had to contend with: top-notch propane pyro."
He added that, if TSO does its job right, just about everyone from grade school kids to grandparents will have a rockin' good time.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.