MANHATTAN, NY—For the past two years, Michael Pemberton has been developing a rock opera based on The Master And Margarita, written by Mikhail Bulgakov. The novel was a magical and humorous story about the devil visiting Moscow. He formed the Michael Pemberton Band to record and perform live some of his work in progress.
Shades of Bat Out Of Hell! Decades after Meatloaf recorded an album that combined rock and cabaret with a story line, Pemberton has advanced the concept to a magical land much like many of the operas at Lincoln Center. At The Bowery Electric, Pemberton and his band—featuring the two members of Lythion, Ilyana Kadushin and James Harrell—brought the mystical story to life with a mix of hard rock, light cabaret and even a bit of western swing.
Wait a minute, was that really a harp on the left side of the stage? Yes, indeed, plucked by Erik Heger, sometimes as if he was picking a rock guitar. Between songs, Pemberton narrated Bulgakov’s fantasy-laden story about unrequited love and a deal with the devil. Whether or not the story line appealed to the listeners, the fine craftsmanship of the composer and the tight execution of the musicians was extraordinary.
The Michael Pemberton Band will perform more parts of the rock opera at the Slipper Room beginning March 20. In the meantime, visit the Michael Pemberton Band on Facebook or at www.masterandmargarita.eu/en/index.html.