Light up the Holidays 

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra lights up the holidays.

A host of amplified, metallic versions of Christmas standards are embedded in the narrative like candied cherries in a fruitcake. “Oh Holy Night” becomes an acoustic power ballad. Tchaikovsky’s sugarplum fairies are transformed into lead-footed headbangers. An angel’s visit to Sarajevo is accompanied by a headlong and ominous combination of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “The Carol of the Bells.”

That it works (and it mostly does, with the odd flash of brilliance) is due to the commitment and professionalism of the production. The band, augmented with a local string section, makes all the right moves with flash and abandon. Singers shift with every song, each trying to make the moment in the spotlight a showstopper. The light show is hyperdramatic and original, and the sound system is computer-tuned to ensure there’s not a bad seat in the house.

The Christmas program runs its course by intermission. The second half of the show is a medley that last year included a preview of a rock opera about the night Beethoven died and a thunderous version of “O Fortuna” from Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”

The use of classical sources reveals a level of artistic ambition that the band’s subtlety-free sonic assault is unable to sustain. Then again, who wants to read Jane Austen on a roller coaster.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the polar opposite of a silent night. S

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” at the Carpenter Center Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $52.50-$60.50 and can be purchased through 262-8100 or www.ticketmaster.com.



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