RCA nabs rights to rock opera by Rice and half of ABBA’s Andersson and Ulvaeus.

London, 11th September 1984

Reportedly outbidding fancy offers from some rival labels, RCA Records has acquired global rights to a double album narrative rock opera called Chess, with release in Europe slated for late October (on the RCA/Polar label) coincident with a series of live concert presentations in five key European cities. U.S. release figures to be closer to Christmas.

The work, recorded over the past 10 months in London and Stockholm, is a collaboration of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and British lyricist Tim Rice, partnered in the venture as 3 Knights Ltd. Storyline is about the romantic and political complications in connection with a showdown competition between America and Russian chess aces.

Also planned by the authors is a theatrical stage production of the opus. RCA as yet has no financial commitment to the legit version, but it holds an option on the original cast album as and when.

The upcoming double album is performed by Elaine Paige, Murray Head, Tommy Körberg, Barbara Dickson and Denis Quilley, backed by the London Symphony, a 50-strong choir and a rockband.

Paige, Head and Körberg, plus the orchestra and choir, will tour the concert presentation, starting October 27th, 1984 at London’s Barbican Center, and followed on consecutive nights at La Salle Playel in Paris, the Concertgebow in Amsterdam, CCH in Hamburg, and the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm. Co-promoting the tour with 3 Knights is Thomas Johansson of Sweden’s EMA-Telstar.

Rice wrote the lyrics for Blondel, a historical musical which winds a London legit run next week. He previously collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Jesus Christ Supersar, Evita and Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, all of which also originated as presentation double albums, prior to being adapted for the legit stage. Transcribed for ABBA World

Variety (New York) · Wednesday, 12 September 1984 (Page 72)

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