LIFESTYLE, Mumbai Diary

Operatic Experience – La Boheme revisited

Image for Opera Chandelier

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

Image for Mondaymusings

Author: Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!


  1. While it does seem that there were a few glitches, I wholeheartedly support the concept and hope it gets a bigger audience in the days to come. As you rightly said, opera is not something we think about when we consider India (honestly, is it there anywhere in India??) but it is a beautiful art that deserves to be shared and spread – and most importantly, appreciated.
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…My science-defying strawberry milkshakeMy Profile

  2. I really had no idea of Opera’s existence in India inspite of living in Mumbai for a good number of years. Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge