Life Is a Cabaret

About ten years ago, this sort of thing — a little bit vaudeville-ish, a little bit carnivalesque — started to happen, and bands of saw players and burlesque dancers began to rove the country like gypsies, putting on shows reminiscent of evenings in the hobo town. And it’s evolved over the years into something the Portland-based ensemble Vagabond Opera calls “Bohemian Operatic Steampunk Cabaret.” It’s not opera in the traditional sense at all (“This is opera liberated and reinvented for everyone!” is how Vagabond’s website defines the troupe’s niche), but instead a delightful — and sometimes naughty — concoction of hot jazz, Marlene Dietrich, Balkan harmonies, belly dancers and more, anchored by operatic and cabaret-style singing. And how do the performers like to spend their time? According to their Facebook page, “writing tortured love songs. Riding in a van. A Lot. Taking ridiculous pictures in gas stations. Theater, costume design, ritual. Connecting with audience. Playing music to lots of screaming fans, while dancing the Mazurka on top of a bar...with monkeys!”

Led by singer and accordionist Eric Stern, Vagabond has toured the nation and gigged with Pink Martini, DeVotchKa and the Decemberists, but until now, they’ve never played Denver. All that will change tonight at 8 p.m. when Vagabond tumbles, shimmies and jams on stage at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. For tickets, $15, go to ; for more about Vagabond Opera, go to
Wed., March 13, 8 p.m., 2013


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