Singers join forces to create RocOpraNatra at Packard
Brian Roman is bringing a couple of friends with him for his return engagement for the Warren Civic Music Association.
The Canadian singer performed crooner favorites by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones and others when he played Packard Music Hall in 2013. This time he will be joined by Christopher Dallo and Danny Scott for a show billed as RocOpraNatra.
The idea for the group came about from seeing how subscription series around the country were facing shrinking attendance.
“They’re all sort of looking to appeal, not necessarily to a younger audience, but a new audience without alienating their existing loyal supporters,” Roman said during a telephone interview.
“RocOpraNatra goes back to a time when all of the great entertainers co-existed. You had a period of time where The Beatles had six of the top 10 hits in one week, and they were real rock ‘n’ roll songs, and that same week the number one song was ‘Hello, Dolly’ by Louis Armstrong.”
In the ’70s, rock continued to thrive while Dean Martin’s variety show was one of the most popular programs on television.
“It seemed to me if a show contained a variety of music from classic rock ‘n’ roll to opera and the different types of music from the great crooners, singers like Elvis Presley and Tom Jones, that it would help to appeal to a new demographic and at the same time would appeal to those strong supportive theatergoers.”
Roman met Dallo after both were featured in a Toronto magazine article.
“We’d done a couple shows together and just said to each other, ‘As a combination, we would be a pretty cool show,'” Roman said.
Dallo is a classically trained tenor who was selected by songwriter / producer David Foster to perform on his Hit Man tour, which also featured Sarah McLachlan, Ruben Studdard, Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire and Peter Cetera of Chicago. He can perform the songs of Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli as well as putting his own twist on pop standards, like singing the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” in Italian.
“He doesn’t sing it in operatic tones, but he sings it with raw passion,” Roman said. “I can’t imagine anyone sitting in the audience and not thinking, ‘This is great.'”
Scott comes from a rock background. He was signed to A&M Records in the ’90s and was a founding member of the band 3MDM. As a songwriter, his music has been heard on the popular Canadian teen television series “Degrassi.” Roman recorded his first three albums at Scott’s recording studio.
“When you listen to Danny talk, you wouldn’t imagine he’d be able to sing, but he actually has a Rod Stewart-esque kind of voice. It’s not an impression, he just has that style. And since Rod Stewart did the American songbook albums, his style and his voice and that whole concept has broad appeal.”
Scott does songs popularized by Stewart, Michael Bolton and Bryan Adams while Roman focuses on the crooners that he grew up loving. Roman, 53, is an untrained singer who sold insurance until he decided to pursue a singing career at age 42. Working with Dallo and Scott has been an education for him.
“I don’t read music, I don’t play any instrument, I don’t know what key I sing in, I just love to sing and am blessed with a voice that people think is decent and like to listen to,” he said. “Chris is a trained musician who knows everything about the voice and vocal cords and air and control. When I watch him sing, I become a better singer.
“And Danny, since he was a kid, all he’s done in his life is music. When you watch someone with that experience phrase a song and deliver a song, when you see his dedication to the audience, you pick up pointers. From each guy, you watch and observe and you learn.”
Roman still performs solo, but RocOpraNatra is taking up more and more of his time — by choice.
“There’s just so much there, and the show moves so quickly,” he said. “In a 90-minute show, you have 22 to 26 songs, depending upon how much banter there is. There are three guys who could easily do three shows without repeating a song, and it would be their best stuff … We do eight songs together, which leaves 16, 17 songs. That’s only like five songs each. The most difficult challenge we faces is what songs aren’t we going to do. What results from that is the best of the best of the best — power, excitement, fun, world-class entertainment. It moves so fast throughout different styles and genres, you don’t have time to look at your watch.”