Nicole Gruter is well known around town as a mixologist, but her operatic alter ego, aria-caressing prog diva Wilhelmina Baker, is more obscure. At least at the moment. With help from local luminaries like musical-saw ace Lisa "Mae Rae" Hinzman, keyboardist Stephanie Rearick and the Gomers, Ms. Baker offers up woozy, funhouse adaptations of Monteverdi, Scarlatti and other composers that respectfully transform their original art with humor, skill and an array of effects pedals. There's plenty of recitative here, including some wry commentary on the weirdness that is artistic fame, but Wilhelmina also employs a convincing contralto on fevered fare like Monteverdi's hyper-dramatic "Lasciatemi Morire!"
Opera has long fascinated the pop-rock avant-garde. The late Klaus Nomi even carved out a reasonably successful career in nightclubs as a Kabuki-makeup-wearing countertenor. And with the louche, appropriately tragic Wilhelmina serving as tour guide, Scarlatti just might have a shot in underground watering holes once again.