When Jerry Springer the Opera was first announced years ago, the joke about the unlikely project was that at least the opening chorus would be obvious: the rhythmic chanting of "Jer-ree, Jer-ree, Jer-ree."

Now, it's no joke. In fact, the piece - a 2003 hit in London, where it originated - is in the midst of a two-night run (opened last night, closes tonight) at Carnegie Hall - with Harvey Keitel as the incendiary, foul-mouthed talk-show-host title character. It's a showcase for a longer U.S. run.

Who could resist such a provocative project? Well, it's true that Jerry's raucous, chair-throwing heyday was the late 1990s - but goodness knows the world hasn't cleaned up its act in the years since, and opera never was supposed to be polite - or current. Also, the piece is clearly about more than a talk show: The three acts are subtitled "Earth," "Purgatory" and "Hell."

Go to the show's Web site at http://www.jerryspringertheopera.com - it includes a link to the music.

Look for a review on philly.com and in tomorrow's Inquirer.

   - David Patrick Stearns