Artist

OPUS AVANTRA

Donella Del Monaco (vocals)
Alfredo Tisocco (keyboards)

A unique group in the Italian scene, Opus Avantra mixed together contemporary classical music with avantgarde and a light progressive rock inflience, giving an original result that's often considered too difficult to listen for straight prog rock ears. Their name was obtained from their three main interests, opera, avantgarde and traditional music.

Formed in Veneto in 1973 around the nucleus of soprano Donella Del Monaco (the niece of famous tenor Mario Del Monaco), pianist-composer Alfredo Tisocco, philosopher Giorgio Bisotto and producer Renato Marengo, and aided in the years by many other musicians, the group released their first album in 1974, Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco (often referred to as Introspezione, from the title of the first track) on the collectible Trident label. 
Usually considered their most accessible work, the album is built on classical-inspired themes with complex arrangements and dominated by the nice soprano voice of singer Del Monaco and good flute playing, with just an instrumental track, Rituale. The band also had a good live activity promoting their album in Veneto and Rome.

Donella Del Monaco was absent on the second album Lord Cromwell (plays suite for seven vices), that follows in the same style as the previous work, being replaced by an American chorus. Former Nuova Idea drummer Paolo Siani played on this album, that like the first one contains some interesting passages for the adventurous listeners.

Both Alfredo Tisocco (along with Gruppo Italiano di Danza Libera in 1975's Katharsis) and Donella Del Monaco (with 12 canzoni da battello in 1977, Schoenberg Kabarett in 1978, Il carnevale di Venezia in 1985) also released individual albums in the same vein, and the duo reunited under the name Opus Avantra for a third album in 1989, Strata, and a CD-only fourth release in 1995, Lyrics.

2008 saw the reunion of Opus Avantra with Donella Del Monaco, Alfredo Tisocco and Giorgio Bisotto, for concerts in Romania and Japan, based on material from all their albums. The line-up also features Valerio Galla (drumes and percussion), Mauro Martello (flute), Anca Elena Botezatu (violin), Ioana Ionescu (violin), Alexandra Butnaru (viola), Violeta Loredana Dumitru (cello), and the show was directly produced by the reborn Cramps, with lights, sound and scenes made by Alan Walter Bedin.
The Tokyo concert was used for the DVD Viaggio immaginario/Live in Tokyo 2008.

 

 

LP
Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco Trident (TRI 1006) 1974 gatefold cover
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1006) 2008 reissue of the above - gatefold cover
Lord Cromwell (plays suite for seven vices) Suono (SRLP 1002) 1975 gatefold cover
Strata Artis (ARLP 006) 1989 gatefold cover


CD
Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco Artis (ARCD 002) 1989 reissue of 1974 album - now deleted
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1006) 2001 as above
Lord Cromwell (plays suite for seven vices) Artis (ARCD 003) 1989 reissue of 1975 album - now deleted
Strata Artis (ARCD 011) 1989 now deleted
Lyrics Artis (ARCD 023) 1995  
  Akarma (AK 1039) 2004 reissue of 1995 CD, also issued as part of the Omega box set - mini-LP gatefold cover
Opus Magnum Akarma (AK 1033/4) 2002 4 CD box set containing Opus Avantra's three LP's and Alftredo Tisocco's solo album Katharsis, all with mini-LP gatefold covers and also sold separately
Omega Akarma (AK 1039/4) 2003 4 CD box set containing Opus Avantra's Lyrics and the unreleased Live concerts excerpts along with Alftredo Tisocco's solo albums Ritagli d'anima and Ballet collection
Live concerts excerpts Akarma (AK 1039/4) 2004 unreleased recordings from 1977 to 1991 - previously issued as part of the Omega box set - mini-LP triple gatefold cover


SINGLES (with picture sleeve)
Il pavone
Ah douleur
Trident (TRN 1006) 1974 both tracks from Opus Avantra
Allemanda
Flowers on pride
Suono (SRNP 5002) 1975 B side from Lord Cromwell


VARIOUS ARTISTS COMPILATION ALBUMS
Donella Del Monaco - Fragments 1975-2002 Publigas (075) 2002 includes two tracks from a rare Opus Avantra 1975 single, Allemanda and Flowers on pride

 

The first two Opus Avantra albums are very rare and expensive in their original issues, while the third is more common. All of them came in gatefold covers.

The first album, Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco came out with two slightly different back covers. One of the two versions, probably the first print, has a small sticker in the bottom left corner with catalogue number TRI 1006, which doesn't appear on the cover, and the writing "Distrib.Fonit Cetra". The second version has no sticker, with the distribution credit printed in the bottom left corner and teh catalogue number in the top right one.
This album was officially reissued on vinyl in 2008 by BTF.
Before this reissue, others had been released: one of these is probably a counterfeit, very similar to the original but easily identifiable by the usual distinctive elements (see Trident page for details). While the original album has the matrix number and date machine-stamped on vinyl, these are hand-etched on the reissue, that also has a label in a slightly different colour and paper.
A 1988 reissue also exists (the year is printed on the label) with a glossy cover, and this seems a legitimate repressing taken from the original master: the matrix number and release date on vinyl are machine-stamped and SIAE stamp is there. Some copies of this reissue have the labels inverted on both sides of the vinyl (the A-side label is on the B-side).
Another edition of the same reissue exists which was customized for export to Japan; this has a smooth cardboard gatefold cover, easily identifiable by the English text on back "Distributed for Japan by Marquee". It also includes an insert with the original lyrics and the Japanese translations.
This export issue for Japan also exists with single cover.

Even Lord Cromwell was reissued on the same Suono label as the original, as this label kept releasing records throughout the 80's. 
The original record had on the back cover the writings "Distribuzione Ariston" and "Grafiche Centonze" and the silver coloured label was printed on rough paper.
Later issues had smooth paper labels and a 3rd type Siae stamp, which was used after 1978/79.
On many of these reissues there is no reference on the cover to the Ariston distribution and to the printers, Grafiche Centonze. Copies intended for export had a "Distributed for Japan by Marquee" writing on back cover, these were made in 1988 in collaboration with the Japanese record shop Marquee, which added a lyric sheet and a foldout insert.

Two beautiful 4-CD compilation box sets have been recently released by Akarma:
Opus Magnum collects the first three Opus Avantra albums (with a bonus track each) along with
Alfredo Tisocco's Katharsis (played with Gruppo Italiano di Danza Libera);
Omega includes two more albums from Alfredo Tisocco, Ritagli d'anima and Ballet collection, and two from Opus Avantra, 1995's Lyrics and Live concerts excerpts, an unreleased live album with 1977-91 recordings (this CD has been later issued separately).
The albums in this box sets have all mini gatefold covers reproducing the original artworks, and some of them also include an insert. Each box set also includes a foldout insert.

A recent CD reissue of Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco on the Japanese Arcangelo label (ARC-7005) comes with a hard mini-LP cover.

Opus Avantra-Donella Del Monaco - LP

Opus Avantra-Donella Del Monaco - label and matrix number detail

  

Opus Avantra-Donella Del Monaco - detail of the two different cover versions

  

Opus Avantra-Donella Del Monaco - detail of the two different cover versions

Lord Cromwell - LP 

Lord Cromwell - original rough label with 2nd type Siae stamp

Lord Cromwell - resssue with 3rd type Siae stamp - smooth paper label

Lord Cromwell - covers of the original (above) and reissue LP with side title printed upside down

Lord Cromwell - covers of the original (left) with Ariston Distribution credit and reissue LP (right)

Lord Cromwell - covers of the original (above) with Grafiche Centonze credit and reissue LP (below)

Strata - LP

Il pavone - 7" single

Allemanda - 7" single

Lyrics - CD

Live concerts excerpts - CD

Opus Magnum - CD box set

Omega - CD box set

 

 



Click on the picture to enlarge

Opus Avantra - 2008

 

 

Singer Donella Del Monaco has her own website at www.donelladelmonaco.com also containing Opus Avantra information and discography

Opus Avantra are featured on the websites of Cramps, www.cramps.it and Artis, www.artisrecords.it, which can be used for contacts and orders of current audio and DVD material.

 

Thanks to Giovanni Ottone for some pictures and information