There is a point where it IS opera, most decidedly opera.
The scene takes place at the end of Passover, in Jerusalem, a very long time ago. Jesus Christ has been arrested. The Roman prelate, Pontius Pilate, has already refused to participate in the lynching happening around him.
Pilate sent Christ be dealt with by local authorities. Herod was too smart to get involved with this fiasco and gave the prisoner back to the local civic and religious leaders.
Since it is a holy day, and believing they had no authority to condemn Jesus to death, the local leaders return Christ to Pilate.
In the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, this encounter is titled "Trial Before Pilate (Including The 39 Lashes)."
Much of Jesus Christ Superstar is rock n roll, or folk rock. There is certainly some classical musical influence, but most of it is not terribly "operatic" in my view. This track however, has all the elements of an opera aria (not all arias are solo performances).
There is a protagonist and an antagonist, and a chorus. The music is decidedly classical in style, if modern in execution with some modern rock interspersed. The back and forth could have been written by Puccini or Bizet (if they had been post-hippie Englishmen of privilege with a penchant for the absurd and a burning desire to succeed).
The piece opens with Pilate telling high-priest Caiaphas that he wants nothing to do with the whole Jesus thing; but Caiaphas and his entourage insist that Pilate handle the political morass that is the arrest of the outsider, the Nazarene.
The dramatic back and forth between Pilate and Jesus, and the chorus interjecting provocation, create the operatic highlight of the entire show.
When Pilate has Jesus flogged, a rock 'n roll riff is inserted as the lashes are counted.
After the flogging, Pilate's anger increases as Jesus becomes more adamant in his debate. Pilate reaches wit's end and he sings in a rage: "Don't let me stop your great self-destruction. Die if you want to, you misguided martyr. I wash my hands of your demolition. Die if you want to you innocent puppet."
When this ends, the opera moves into its most famous piece: "Superstar" with its magnificent opening chords, the strains of which are familiar to anyone who could hear and comprehend music in 1970.