Celebrating a decade of opera

From the exotic appeal of Orfeo to the tragic end in Romeo and Juliet, the longing for love in The Pearl Fishers to the Indian element in Fakir of Benaras and the theatrics in Don Pasquale and If I were King; this splendid evening of opera evoked all navarasas (nine emotions).

Waiting impatiently inside the weightlifting auditorium at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the audience couldn’t stop gazing at the magnificent screen in awe. Soon this screen projected the highly anticipated opening of The Neemrana Music Foundation (TNMF)’s 10th Anniversary Gala Show.

The regulars at the opera expected this tribute to Francis Wacziarg (founder of TNMF) to be sombre. But they were in for a surprise when they were treated to a celebratory evening with snippets from the nine operas (produced by TNMF) staged one after the other.

The subtitles on the black panels on both sides of the sta­ge were helpful for those unfamiliar with the French langua­ge. But even without looking at these, one was able to enjoy the show since the projections on the digital screen at the back guided a viewer through the different narratives.

What was most memorable was the presence of Claire Levacher as the conductor
of the show. Certainly one of the most passionate opera conductors that Delhi has
ever witnessed, Levacher’s

energy did not dip for even a second throughout the performance. Her verve impressed the audience and her lively communication with her musicians (from India and Europe) travelled to the singers on the stage.

Though the presentation of the opera Orfeo was quite dark and extremely short; the projection of withered leaves falling in autumn (on the digital screen) made for a beautiful backdrop for The Magic Flute. On the stage, designed by Oroon Das, the three fema­le

singers (Three Spirits) sang in merriment as they narrated the tale of triumph of good over evil. Soon the comic story of an old groom wanting to marry a pretty young lady was staged as part of Don Pasquale followed by the plot of La Traviata – a realistic portrait of a courtesan in Paris.

As the screen at the back projected the ghats of Ganga, the tale of the popular opera The Fakir of Benaras unfolded. Similarly, Carmen (story of the scandalous life of a Spanish gipsy), The Pearl Fishers (two fishermen competing

for the love of same woman) and Romeo and Juliet were staged. But it was the concluding opera – If I Were King that set the celebratory tone with the singers dancing on the stage in gaiety, even as they took a bow.

Those who had seen the performance of the TNMF singers earlier could acutely analyse them this time round. While doing so, Metrolife was pleasantly surprised at the improvement of Amar Muchhala’s facial expressions (vis a vis his performance in Romeo and Juliet, last year).

The singer who plays the central character in four of the
above mentioned operas even surpassed Vikrant Subramanian (the ace product
of TNMF) especially in few of the initial acts. Subramanian, however, manages to
steal the show with his impromptu jig during the bow-taking ceremony.

It was also a surprise to see many familiar faces, including Reuben Israel, as part of the choir and inclusion of classical dancer Malti Shyam and dancers from Samudra and Sadhya. One’s heart goes out to the unprivileged and visually impaired children who performed excellently in Carmen.

Truely, the efforts of Aude Priya Wacziarg (managing trustee of TNMF) deserve an applause for bringing it
all together!

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