Classic Albums: The Making of ‘A Night at the Opera’
By David Chiu
A Night At the Opera, Queen’s 1975 masterful fourth album, solidified the group’s popularity both in the UK and US. It defined what the group was all about: excess, pomp, pageantry, bombast, precision, camp, and great music. Oh, and it also has Queen’s signature six-minute epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” too. On this excellent DVD documentary, the album is discussed and analyzed song-by-song with commentary by surviving members Brian May and Roger Taylor, producer Roy Thomas Baker, Elektra Jac Holzman, and Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis. It also contains archival footage providing a glimpse into the painstaking work involved, from the sound effects to the multitracking that made “Bohemian Rhapsody” wacky and beloved. Through the documentary one really appreciates the late great singer Freddie Mercury not only as one of rock’s flamboyant frontman but a gifted musician and songwriter (Highlights also include a live performance of “Sweet Lady” from the famous 1976 Hyde Park show, and acoustic performances by May of “Good Company” and “’39”).. Not often spoke about in the conversations about the greatest rock albums in the league of Pet Sounds, Sgt, Pepper, Rumours and Dark Side of the Moon, A Night at the Opera stands out as a benchmark of ‘70s rock and roll grandeur.