Rock Opera of the Greatest Story
Background to the Project The origin of this project dates back to 1992 when Producer Roberto Danova watched a late night British news programme and for the first time saw His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, lead a ceremony. He was moved and inspired by the sheer magnificence of the Russian Orthodox choirs and their sacred hymns. At the time, Roberto was working on a specialist recording project of instrumental and choral music and those hymns stimulated a wish to go to Russia one day and record them. In 1995 Roberto was commissioned to compose a new score to 'The Phantom of the Opera', based on the novel of Gaston Leroux, to be adapted for theatre on ice and performed by the world-renowned Russian Ice Stars. Since then, the show has enjoyed three very successful UK tours. This Russian link reinforced Roberto's original idea. In June 1998, through a long time associate, Dr. Nicholas Mikniche, Roberto was introduced to a well known Russian artist. As a result, it was suggested that Roberto should write to the Patriarch of Moscow directly presenting himself with a recording of his work of The Phantom of the Opera on Ice and asking for permission to record Russian Orthodox choirs inside their monasteries. An official invitation to visit Moscow followed almost immediately. Nicholas and Roberto then felt it was a good idea to join forces and form a new company - 21st Century Generation Ltd - to give Roberto the possibility of first recording these choirs in pure form on location in Russia, and later add to the ancient hymns modern orchestration and unconventional production in England. The aim was to make the music appeal to all generations. One of the early highlights of an unfolding and amazing three year journey was meeting His Holiness Alexei II. This led Roberto to understand at first hand the enormous difficulties of Russia and it's people and provoked an even greater awareness of the spiritual power of these majestic hymns. With the Millennium nearing, the idea progressed to widen the scope of the project to include other major Christian Churches with choirs and hymns in a celebration of 2000 years of Christianity. The project would serve as an inspiration, and spiritual renewal of the good message, for generations to come. The Russian Church was instrumental in making the necessary official introductions to record in Armenia (the first Christian nation in AD 301) with the Cathedral Choir of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Greek Byzantine Choir of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. All the while, Roberto had been trying through various channels to obtain permission from the Vatican to record one of their choirs. It was during one of his visits to Moscow that Roberto met Gianfranco Ugazzi - a fellow Italian businessman - who was totally intrigued by the project and immediately offered to introduce Roberto to a high official at the Vatican. After presenting the project to the Grand Jubilee 2000 Committee and the necessary vetting, recordings took place with the Pontifical Vatican Gregorian Choir and 21st Century Generation was granted the official Jubilee Logo for what the Vatican termed the 'only musical project of it's kind and therefore of great Christian historical significance'. The English contributions to this Christian celebration come from the magnificent Choir of Canterbury Cathedral, and the exciting Merrybell Church of God Gospel Choir from Manchester. The studio recordings feature The Northern Light Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Whitfield; Steve Morris - guitars (Ian Gillan); Roy Martin - drums and percussions (Aretha Franklin); Assisi - a new dynamic rock voice from Liverpool; location, studio recording and mixing engineer Tim A. Duncan.