Jim Territo has written stage musicals and classical pieces, and songs. But he’s never taken on a full-scale opera — or, in this case, rock opera
On Thursday, Aug. 10, the Clarkston resident, who’s currently teaching at the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, will premiere “The Daedalus 2 Mission: A Space Opera,” a 10-song concept about a team of robot probes investigating black holes after the end of the universe. Territo has recruited a corps of area musicians to bring the piece to life, including Phil Treais of Philly & the Flipsters and recent Detroit Music Awards-winning bassist Takashi Iio, all of whom will be wigged and costumed for an extravagant presentation.
“This is sort of a departure for me as a composer, but it’s a good summation, I guess, of the work I’ve wanted to do in classical, theater and as a singer-songwriter-composer,” says Territo, 38. “I’ve done a lot of traditional music and theater and classical composition before this. But who doesn’t want to be a rock star, right?
“This give me and my friends a big, wild ol’ production and that prospect is very exciting to me — always has been. It just works out different when you do a concert wearing a tuxedo as opposed to this, when we wear fishnet arm bands and torn-up T-shirts and a crazy wig.”
Territo studied composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, where he was “encouraged to pursue my own path.”
“They left you open to the grand scope of music you could create, which had a lot to do with me exploring different kinds of music throughout my career,” he says.
Territo has performed with various woodwind ensembles at Carnegie Hall in New York, Disney Hall in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Territo’s first musical, “Justice In Dusty Junction,” was performed by the Clarkston High School drama class during 2012, and three years later his “New Standards: Songs For the Stage,” which included pieces from “Justice In Dusty Junction,” premiered at 42West in New York City.
“A lot of the music I’ve written has been about telling stories,” says Territo, who taught at Detroit Country Day School for 12 years before joining Roeper. “I think I got the itch for that while I was a music theater student here in Clarkston.”
Territo hatched the idea for “The Daedalus 2 Mission” with his nephew Joseph Territo, a literature and mythology student.
“We’re both fans of science and science fiction; We both love watching space documentaries in particular,” the elder Territo says. But there was one topic they felt was untreated.
“We hadn’t seen anything about what was going to happen when the universe actually ends,” Territo explains. “It’s pretty much going to turn into a cold void, by all guesses. We thought, ‘What would it be like to live into the age of black holes, and that’s when we started the whole concept.”
“The Daedalus 2 Mission” is diverse, as well. Its songs run a gamut from hard rock and punk rock to reggae and ballads, as well as “touches of traditional musical theater and actual opera woven in as well.” Territo cites David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” album as a source, along with Pink Floyd and Queen. “We’re going for that very heavy, classically influenced rock ’n’ roll sound that delivers meaty messages,” he says.
Territo will be filming and recording this week’s show. And while “The Daedalus 2 Mission” may deal with the end of the universe, he’s hoping it’s just the beginning of a life for the piece that will include more opulent performances in the future.
“In the end,” Territo notes, “when you create something like this you just want to step in and say, ‘I want to make it beautiful.’ If you do that, who knows what can happen to it down the road?”
• If You Go: “The Daedalus 2 Mission: A Space Opera” will be performed Thursday, Aug. 10 (doors open at 7 p.m.), at The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Tickets are $15 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 248-858-9333 or visit thecrofoot.com.
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