As a Kabuki-dressed opera singer was convoyed atop a platform through the crowd wailing in an ear-piercing pitch, a packed Hammerstein Ballroom wrestled in anticipation. The mezzo-soprano’s Italian lyrics serenaded the audience over an original Stephan Moore composition before slipping into a familiar tune.

In my mind, in my head, this is where we all came from
The dreams we had, the love we shared, this is what we’re waiting for

With that, the electronic music phenom known as Axwell (one-third of the Grammy-nominated trio Swedish House Mafia) stepped into his DJ booth resembling a giant organ and took the reins, launching into his harmonic new track “In My Mind.” An onslaught of green and blue lasers shot across the room and the massive three-tiered chandelier hanging from the ceiling began shimmering a blazing red. Axwell had the packed tri-level venue hanging on his every move as he bounced in flawless rhythm to the core-pounding bass.

Welcome to the Cosmic Opera, an “extrasensory” fusion between dance music and acrobatics with strings of operatic tones and themes interwoven throughout it. The Cirque-du-Soleil-esque performance is the brainchild of 25-year-old Long Islander Justin Cohen. It kicked off its three-act show last week at the early-1900’s opera house in New York, with the subsequent acts set to follow in April and May.

With Axwell as its conductor, the Cosmic Opera was indeed a unique night at the theater. For most of the evening dancers filtered through the mob dressed in masquerade,interacting with the energy-injected crowd. Contortionists performed on giant sheets dangling from the roof. The sense-assualting lightshow was relentless; the work of an accomplished technician who has previously worked with Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga. The swinging aerialists and explosive theatrics captured a younger generation’s novel take on an age-old art form. Somewhere Gioachino Rossini was rolling in his grave.

For ticket information on acts two and three click here.

Nate Storey is a Research Assistant for Travel + Leisure.

Images courtesy of Max Levine.