Bohemian Rhapsody is, by all means, one of the most artistically elaborate songs of the past four decades, seamlessly integrating elements of opera, ballads and hard rock. We can in fact call it a “mock opera” or a “suite” as it comprises several sections without a chorus: the intro is followed by a ballad segment, a recitative operatic segment that then develops into a hard rock part, and a coda reprising the ballad section. The nihilistic lyrics make the song even more interesting.
There are plenty of covers that, vocally, almost do justice to Freddy Mercury’s vocal virtuosity and theatricality (Jonathan Groff did a fine job on Glee). However, you don’t actually need vocals to create a believable cover of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Together with the Indiana University Studio Orchestra, Nicholas Hersh, violist Sarah Harball and trumpeter Patrick Hunninghake recently arranged Bohemian Rhapsody for symphony orchestra and solo viola. While the viola and the trumpet manage to convey the pathos and the operatic histrionic panache of Freddy Mercury, the orchestra provides a solid structure to the whole rhapsody.