Floating Opera

Burning Lighthouse Reviews

Review from Option, written by Linda Anderson:

Cut to the opening scene of a sort of opera-lite. Lilting female vocals dance above lushly orchestrated melodies in the first piece, "Forever In June." A male voice enters, and abruptly the ethereal music gives way to Tom Waits-like rasping in the next song, "Nursery." With these theatrical changes, {Floating Opera} is best described as poetry set to music. The somewhat melancholy, definitely cryptic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics are underscored by vaguely Celtic melodies. The resulting web of sound is entrancing, as delicate and complexly intertwined as the trap a spider weaves for a fly. The intriguingly titled "Lisa's Limbs" is a yearning if strange ditty which croons, "The cartoons our heart makes/Are sheep and wolves/Playing hide and seek/A little of both/And a little of each/Please unzip me/If you please." These lines epitomize the gentle tensions and underlying romance of Floating Opera.

Review from Lincoln Journal-Star, written by L. Kent Wolgamott:

4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.
For this inclusive tape, producer/writer Richard Rebarber brought members of the Millions, Mercy Rule, Jumpin' Kate and the Rollover Sisters, Clarke County, and the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra into his home studio.

Together, they created an eight-song set of beautifully arranged, carefully crafted, highly melodic alternative adult pop.

To provide an idea of where the music is coming from, "Lisa's Limbs" would be at home on a Suzanne Vega record while the Irish-rooted "Nursery" easily could be a Pogues song.

The song structure and lyrics, however, set "Floating Opera" apart from the run of the mill.

Lyricist Charles Lieurance uses prose-style writing to create scenes and character studies on six of the tape's songs as Rebarber's music flows without the constant repetition of most pop.

The most traditional pop songs on the tape were written by Millions' vocalist Lori Allison - the delicate, airy "Please" and "Dressed in Seven."

The latter is the exquisite centerpiece of the recording as Allison's stirring, heartfelt vocals touchingly deliver her impressionistic take of life on the road set inside a perfectly arranged string section.

As primary vocalist, Allison is the tape's most obvious standout. But Rebarber's keyboards, and Tammy VanDe Bogart's contributions (vocals, penny whistle, harmonica, flute and concertina) impress as well. And the performances throughout prove that the Lincoln music scene has far more to offer than just grunge.

Literally completing the package is an intricately designed and drawn cassette card, the work of Millions' guitarist Harry Dingman.

Lincoln Journal-Star, Thursday, July 8, 1993.

Article entitled "Best CD's of '93 (so far) heavy on alternative" by L. Kent Wolgamott. "Floating Opera" is the 10th choice, after Paul Westerberg - "14 songs"; P.J. Harvey - "Rid of Me"; Dinosaur Jr. - "Where You Been"; Digable Planets - "Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)"; Dave Edmunds - "The Dave Edmunds Anthology"; Shonen Knife - "Let's Knife"; American Music Club - "Mercury"; Mercury Rev - "Boces"; and Wynonna Judd - "Tell Me Why". The review for "Floating Opera" in this article is:

A local entry on a national list, "Floating Opera is a superb showcase of a wide range of local talent assembled by producer/composer Richard Rebarber.

Millions' vocalist Lori Allison gives a stunning vocal performance, accompanied by members of the Lincoln Symphony on her "Dressed in Seven", and multi-instrumentalist Tammy VanDe Bogart impresses across the recording. But all of the "Floating Opera" is well worth a listen.

Review from "The Note", written by Ted Grau:

Old King Midas would be jealous. But this is not folklore: everything Lori Allison touches turns to solid gold. Oh, not gold in terms of trinkets or worthless sales charts, but pure gold in the ears of her listeners.

Rising to respect and fame as lead singer of the Millions, Allison still seduces the ears with her bittersweet, elfin voice, a voice that invests anything she does a dreamy, mystical fell ranking with the best of Kate Bush or Tori Amos. She lends this distinctive style to {Floating Opera}, a beautiful collaboration with fellow Lincoln musicians including representatives of the Millions, Mercy Rule, Jazz Monks, Thirteen Nightmares, The Return, Jumpin' Kate, and contributions by the Lincoln Symphony. This diverse collection employs a broad variety of instruments, including violin, penny whistle, oboe, harmonica and cello, to interweave a rich and textured fabric of music seldom heard on vocal projects. The interesting mix is what gives Floating Opera its edge, and its individuality.

The collection is an eight song spectrum of styles, moods, and images. While Allison sings five songs and wrote two (Tammy VanDeBogart sings two and Gregg Cosgrove one), the backbone of the project is the incredible songrwriting team of Rebarber and Lieurance, whose lyrics mesh perfectly with Allison's vocal style. Sometimes perky and playful, other times melancholy and sorrowful, Allison and VanDeBogart's vocals give the stories life, bringing beauty and believable intrigue to the poignant lyrics. They make you wish you were there, laughing when they laughed, crying when they cried. Sounds corny? Maybe a bit, but you'll understand as you sing along.

The two sides of the tape portray different moods. Side one ranges from backseat meanderings of the pain of loss. Beginning with the ache of memory painted in "Forever in June," the take begins to show it's flaws. With Gregg Cosgrove on vocals, "Nursery" is a shallow, Gaelic-sounding ditty that is conspicuously out of place. It's shaky, pseudoemotional male vocal and bubbling rhymed lyrics put a damper on the enveloping gauze the enfolded the listener. I guess Cosgrove was filling in while Allison and VanDe Bogart were in the ladies room.

With the breathy tearjerker "Please," Allison lulls us into side two, a more introspective look at past and present lives. "Dressed in Seven" shines as the brightest gem in the trove; a stringed macrocosm sadly soaring with a double harmony sung and written by Allison. VanDe Bogart's telling "Lisa's Limbs" is a solid, Chrissie Hynde-ish peice on the excitement and anxiety of love and sexuality. Unfortunately, the song is slighted by the cheap Casio-style percussions behind it. Yet, the message of all-night intimacy still creates a masterful song. Allison's voice returns to rise to an airy, Victorian lullaby's pitch in "Still", a lovely musing which brings the release to a close, demanding a tape flip to experience the magic all over again.

A suggestion for full appreciation: A long drive to a secluded spot, a close friend, and a bottle of Chardonnay. Everyone could use a little more culture, so take in some Opera and flat with it. You'll be glad you did.

Review from the New Review of Records, Summer 1994, written by Matt Schuster:

Eight folky/New Age and classical songs from the middle of America. Producer/engineer/keyboardist/songwriter Richard Rebarber's band is Nebraska's version of Clannad meets Bach. With an assortment of musicians and the beautiful voices of Lori Allison and Tammy VanDe Bogart, this short collect is highly original and very nice indeed.

From All Music Guide, by Jason Birchmeier

A self-released 1993 cassette-only debut by Richard Rebarber's ensemble group. Not nearly as accomplished as Everybody's Somebody's Monster or It's Not Easy Listening Anymore, but still well constructed and worth getting if you liked those other records