PARIS (Reuters Life!) - A rock opera based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of Western music's greatest geniuses, goes on stage in Paris next month, in what the producer says will be a tribute to "the first rock star."
Revered as a prodigy from an early age, Mozart's prolific outpouring of operas, concertos, chamber music, symphonies and sacred choral works may have made him one of the most significant figures in European culture.
But the show's producers are more interested in the wild-haired rebel familiar from the 1984 film version of his life "Amadeus."
"In his attitude, Mozart was the first rock star. He revolted against the principles and norms of his time, he died young and he was a libertine," co-producer Albert Cohen said.
"He was also the first musician to become an independent artist; it seemed to us that a rock opera was the only appropriate treatment."
The opera will chart the highs, lows and romantic pursuits of the composer's life from early days in his birth-town Salzburg to international fame in Vienna.
The 6 million-euro musical will feature 60 actors, singers and musicians in period dress, with violinists in 18th century style accompanying a live rock band amidst swirling spotlights.
The show will intersperse Mozart's original works performed by classical musicians with rock songs such as "Vivre a en crever" ("Live until it kills you") and "le Trublion" ("the Troublemaker"), already released on a soundtrack album.
What the sublime composer of the unfinished Requiem Mass and the Marriage of Figaro would have made of it will be forever unknown. But the professional musician in Mozart would no doubt have understood the logic behind it.
Cohen said he hoped ticket sales would outdo the 1,700,000 places sold in France, Belgium and Switzerland for his previous show "the Sun King," dedicated to French King Louis XIV.
He said the musical had already aroused interest from the United States, Britain and Asia, adding that he hoped the first performance outside France would take place next year.
"Mozart, L'Opera Rock" will premiere in Paris' Palais des Sports on Sept 22 before touring venues across France in 2010.
Reporting by Joseph Tandy; Editing by James Mackenzie and Paul Casciato