Operatic Experience – La Boheme revisited
One night at the Opera
Opera in Mumbai?
At least from what I remember, Opera in Mumbai is a no show. We’ve had our musicals but those are not the same as the trilling sopranos and divas that characterize classical opera.
This isn’t really surprising because Mumbai is not on the cultural circuit of Western Classical music. It is thanks to the few remaining Parsis and their untiring efforts that has prevented this performing art from completely dying out.
La Bohème Revisited
An innovative new production of Puccini’s masterpiece.
For the first time in India, the NCPA and the SOI presented a new take on Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera La Bohème. Puccini’s lush score was interspersed with texts from Murger’s original novel which inspired the opera, to tell the tale of the lives and loves of young artists in the Bohemian quarter of Paris. Featuring an international star cast, the performances was led by renowned conductor Carlo Rizzi—who also conducts La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, this season—and SOI Associate Music Director Zane Dalal.
The opera was in Italian with English subtitles.
A visit to the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre is compulsory for every Mumbaikar. Even before you enter the complex, you can see a procession of stately cars glide by . One by one out come the fussy fusspots. In musty suits and silk saris, their opera glasses out , their diamonds and emeralds dusted and clean. They purse their lips in concentration as they slowly hobble up the steps to the frigid realms of the auditorium.
I was at the theatre on my own, as a birthday eve treat .Hubby Dear preferred to pound the pavement knocking off the stubborn pounds that just stuck!
A Clash of Perfumes
Sitting up in the penultimate row, I had a bird’s eye view of the audience streaming in. Most of them were elegantly turned out with an air of knowing more Italian than Ciao! As whiffs of expensive perfumes assaulted my sniffly nose, I spotted the occasional young person looking cool and sophisticated in tight jeans and carefully thrown designer scarf.
The violins and other instruments were tuned in a frantic frenzy behind the curtain waiting to rise while a gang of old girls chatted chirpily behind me.
These ladies were out to have a good time and they thoroughly enjoyed the dialogues that flashed across the top frame. But this didn’t go down too well with a frosty old women who made it a point to up to them in the intermission.
“I’m sorry but you’ll have to tone down your laughter,” she said haughtily, peering down her crooked patrician nose. “This is a tragedy in case you didn’t know.”
The old girls had enough grey in their hair to know so. They politely agreed with the old crone who clenched her crooked toes tighter round her kitten heels and made her way down the stairs. I hate these so called keepers of conscience who think that they are the only people entitled to enjoy themselves in the way they deem fit. What is worse is that they get away telling people what they want!
Cheering the delay
There was a brief amount of clapping when after the intermission, a change of singer was announced. And just as suddenly as the clapping started, it stopped. And once more, the audience slipped out for their cold coffees and sandwiches that the NCPA is famous for.
The actual performance
This delay of 15 minutes actually lengthened the whole program by forty minutes. This did not detract from the enjoyment of this unique presentation that used stunning audio visuals on a transparent screen in place of elaborate props.
Some people found the English subtitles hard to read. A few were too close up in front and had to crane their necks up. While others were too far back to read the faint script.
I enjoyed this performance thoroughly and am grateful to Anna Shetty for making this possible.
I am linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne at EverydayGyaan