A rock opera
or rock musical
is a musical piece in the form of an opera
or a musical
in a modern rock and roll
style rather than more traditional forms. It differs from conventional rock and roll music, which is often a song that is unlinked in plot or story with other songs, but overlaps considerably with concept album
or rock musical
The distinction may be that the rock opera tells a story and a concept album sets a mood, but some albums tell moody stories and others tell stories about moods. The rock musical is defined by having no identification with a band and a generally stronger air of show business. The categories are flexible, to say the least.
Pete Townshend, both with and without his band The Who, is arguably the single artist most associated with the term "rock opera".
Examples of rock operas include:
- Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow: Either the first rock opera or the first concept album
- The Who, Tommy (1969): The album which arguably popularized the term "rock opera"
- The Who, Quadrophenia (1973)
- Pete Townshend, White City (1986): Subtitled "A novel", a video was released in conjunction with this album.
- Pete Townshend, The Iron Man (1989): A "musical" based on Ted Hughes' book The Iron Man (which was also the basis for the animated film The Iron Giant)
- Pete Townshend, Psychoderelict (1993): An album of linked songs with dialogue advancing the story between the music, a version without the dialogue was also released
- Spock's Beard, Snow (2002): Has a storyline and themes very similar to The Who's Tommy
- David Bowie, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
- Pink Floyd, The Wall (1978)
- Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar: Considered a rock musical
- Godspell: Also a rock musical
- Moulin Rouge: A stretch, uses a collection of rock songs from many sources to tell a story.
- Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell and Bat out of Hell II: Back Into Hell
- Styx, Kilroy was Here (1983)
- The Kinks, Preservation Act 1, Preservation Act 2, A Soap Opera, and Schoolboys in Disgrace
- Genesis, The lamb lies down on Broadway: Famous prog-rock opera.