Mark Bogert is guitarist with the Dutch prog band Knight Area. He is also a solo artist and performs as acoustic duo Un-Plugged with his fiancée, the singer Nadine Pruim (who also sings on this album). His latest project was released under the name “Magoria“. Called “JtR1888”, it is a rock opera about Jack the Ripper.
So Bogert and his colleagues have chosen an exciting subject to turn it into a rock opera. Besides the guitartist, nine singers and five musicians sing and play on the album:
Rodney Blaze – Jack The Ripper (Ayreon)
Maria Catharina – Mary Jane Kelly (Robby Valentine)
Inge Rijnja – Catherine Eddowes
Zora Cock – Storyteller
Peter Strykes – Inspector Abberline
Nadine Pruim – Annie Crook
Mirjam Van Doorn – Queen Victoria
Jan Willem Ketelaers – Prince Victor (Knight Area)
Sonny Pruim – Netley
Mark Bogert – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Piano
Koen Stam – Piano, Synthesizer, Keys
Peter Vink – Bass Guitar (Knight Area)
Harmen Kieboom – Drums
Cleem Determeijer – Piano
Matthijs Kieboom – Orchestral Arrangements
Nini Veltman (Soprano)
Leanne De Roo (Alto)
Twan Kieboom (Tenor)
Damian Petrus (Bass)
The first thing you notice is the beautifully designed packaging of the double album, which has been thematically arranged in color, font and pictures. The booklet also contains original pictures from the East End of the year 1888.
For the plot of this rock opera, Bogert has chosen the royal conspiracy theory, which has already been taken up in films such as “Jack the Ripper” from 1988 or “From Hell”. Of course, the theory is pure nonsense, but it is the one that offers the greatest potential for films or rock operas.
There are some changes in Bogert’s version of the story: He probably does not acknowledge Elizabeth Stride as a victim, at least she is not mentioned in the story. The Ripper is not given an identity, he acts as “Jack the Ripper” and his relation to the royal family is not clarified (except that his address is mentioned at the end, which suggests Sir William Gull).
One could argue that the story is only covered very superficially, that there is little background, hardly any depth. However, it would need five albums to cover the whole plot in detail.
The music is mainly opulent epic hard rock/metal à la Nightwish and Within Temptation. In the beginning, we are introduced to the story. The background of the royal conspiracy theory is explained (i.e. sung), which sometimes comes across as a bit bumpy (“By the brother of Prince Victor, from the Royal house, I was asked to look after Annie Crook”).
Every song is dedicated to one victim or murder and also Inspector Abberline and Queen Victoria have their own songs in which they sing about their worries and thoughts. The overlapping of the singing of several characters in individual songs is done really well. In that way, different storylines, that run at the same time, are brought together.
The singing is strong throughout. Especially the female singers shine, in particular Maria Catharina and Inge Rijnja. The music is well composed, recorded and produced. There are really catchy tunes and melodies and especially vocal lines that are repeated and taken up again and again. The music and the voices are the strengths of this work. The story is interesting, even captivating – and of course, as said, the most “Hollywood” Ripper theory. There are some minor factual errors, but one has to give Bogert credit for the fact that this subject is not easy to cover and that he and the whole “Magoria” team produced an impressive and opulent work.
An acoustic compilation
“JtR 1888” was first performed live in Dordrecht on 9 November 2019, the anniversary of Mary Kelly’s death. Live, the rock opera is certainly even more impressive (that is how it should usually be at an opera).
Due to the current COVID-situation, they could play no further gigs. In the meantime, Magoria released an “Acoustic Compilation” of JtR1888. And hopefully, in the future, “Magoria” can bring their rock opera back on stage.