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Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O??Neill has been involved in rock opera for 40 years, yet there were only two times he was truly nervous about what TSO was doing.

The first was when the band toured ??Beethoven??s Last Night? in Vienna.

??I mean, we??re doing Beethoven where Beethoven lived,? O??Neill said with a laugh.

The second time was at the start of this winter??s tour, when he wanted to change everything up. TSO will perform the 2004 album ??The Lost Christmas Eve? in its entirety for the first half of the show and new music from the band??s recently released EP, ??Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night),? in the second.

??We were nervous about this one because the agents were so nervous,? O??Neill said with a laugh. ??They pretty much said, ??Look, you??ve been doing great. If it??s not broke, don??t fix it.?? But the ticket sales have been great so far, which is phenomenal in this economy, and I have to say we were pretty much a nervous wreck until a couple days ago. We??ve got a couple shows behind us now and the fans are really embracing it.?

O??Neill went with ??The Lost Christmas Eve? for the holiday performance because he felt it was a story that would resonate more with the fans this time around.

??The Lost Christmas Eve? focuses on a multimillionaire Wall Street banker who abandoned his only child 40 years earlier. As he makes his way through Christmas Eve, he slowly remedies this mistake, something O??Neill said is part of the magic of that night of the year.

??I??ve always found it fascinating that there??s something about December 24 that allows you to undo mistakes you wouldn??t think you could undo,? he said. ??You live long enough, everybody knows somebody that hasn??t talked to a sibling, parent, friend, co-worker, and there??s something about that night that??ll make you pick up the phone, call them and say, ??I can??t remember why we were even fighting,?? or ??What we were fighting about is so silly. Let??s hit reset.???

O??Neill said another angle came out of the story unexpectedly as he was writing it.

??It??s cliché, but it??s true: Money can??t buy happiness. I??ve known people with all the trappings of wealth: the cars, the houses, the power, whatever, but they??re truly miserable human beings. I??ve also known people who live paycheck to paycheck and they??ve been happy their entire lives.?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a spectacle wherever it tours, bringing with it colorful lights, blazing pyros, and the best in technology. Is it possible they??ve been able to add to the show yet again for this tour?

??Every year, we say, ??How can we make it bigger? How can we make it better???? O??Neill said. ??Luckily, technology always saves our butt in the end.?

The newest addition for this show is robotic arms, which O??Neill said fold and disappear into the stage before coming together and extending out over the audience.

Another addition was something that was conjured up in 2000 but never achievable due to limited technology at the time.

??We wanted a humungous clock on a pendulum that would swing back and forth with video screens in it, fire, the whole nine yards,? O??Neill said, ??But the bottom line was that the equipment weighed so much at the time it was like having a Honda on a pendulum.?

Thanks to advanced technology, O??Neill has finally been able to see the clock come to life.

??At some point, it appears over the audience, the screens start to change, and it bursts into flames and starts to tick. I love it.?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, ??The Lost Christmas Eve:? Nov. 25, 3 and 7 p.m., Mohegan Sun Arena (255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre. 800.745.3000). $32.50-$60.50.

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