Given the multitude of over-the-top interpretations (the 1992 Broadway cast recording, the 1975 movie soundtrack, a 1972 orchestral version), its easy to forget that rocks first opera was conceived as an invitingly lean, mostly acoustic rock LP. Who knew the legend of that deaf, dumb, and blind kid would one day qualify as brunch music?
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)
Not quite an opera, this song cycle works a story line based on Eltons early days with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Its centerpiece, Someone Saved My Life Tonightabout a friend who persuaded the future Mrs. David Furnish not to marry his then-girlfriendis a great gay moment in pop.
The Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs (1999)
Talk about your on-the-nose titles: Listening to Sondheim tunes in a gay piano bar, Stephin Merritt vowed to write 69 original ditties about lamour. If the resulting opus isnt the 21st-century edition of the great American songbook, it should be. Sold as three separate volumes, but come on, who buys just part of Sweeney Todd?