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WATCH: Alexander Kariotis Sings Arena Rock and Grand Opera in the Same Song, ‘Nessun Dorma--No One Sleeps’

By Louise Burton on Dec 17, 2013 12:42 PM EST

The music video "Nessun Dorma--No One Sleeps" begins with a rock-style ballad sung expressively by Alexander Kariotis, a singer with a lot of mileage on his voice. The music intensifies, and Kariotis starts belting out a rock anthem with an edge of hoarseness that comes from singing one too many arena shows. When he suddenly switches to Puccini, it is with an entirely different sound: the rough edges of his voice are completely smoothed over. At first I thought it was a joke, that the voice of a well-known opera singer had been dubbed in over Kariotis' well-worn voice.

But no, it really is Kariotis. He has the bona fides: He studied opera at the Mannes College of Music. He has a master's degree in opera from Northwestern University. And he even studied with Arrigo Pola, Luciano Pavarotti's voice teacher. Now, his mission is to usher in a new era of mainstream rock opera music. "There's room for both rock and opera, even in the same song," Kariotis has said.

Kariotis and his band, The Rock Opera Orchestra, recently recorded the album Nessun Dorma--No One Sleeps. The album will be released in January 2014, but the single "Nessun Dorma" from this album is available now.

Purists will be horrified, but even they've got to admit that Kariotis has both styles down. Growing up in Chicago, Kariotis started singing rock music early, inspired by his older brother Tony, lead singer of rock band Gambler. By the time he was 13, Alex Kariotis was singing in a band that opened for Gambler. Alex seemed destined to be a rocker, but his brother had other ideas for his voice.

Tony Kariotis took his brother to hear Luciano Pavarotti in concert, and the younger Kariotis was blown away. To his passion for rock music, he now added a fascination with opera and desire to learn this new art form.

Kariotis refused to choose between his two loves, instead creating a hybrid art form that he hopes will catch on. But will lovers of one art form accept the other? And will this classical crossover effort result in the dilution of both art forms? It's hard to say.

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TagsAlexander Kariotis, Nessun Dorma--No One Sleeps, Nessun Dorma, Puccini, The Rock Opera Orchestra, Luciano Pavarotti, Arrigo Pola, Tony Kariotis, Mannes College of Music, classical crossover

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