Opera, Bollywood-style

Dec 14 2012, 03:59 IST
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A scene from Don Pasquale. A scene from Don Pasquale.
SummaryA dramatic Italian opera performance has all the essential elements of a Hindi movie.

A dramatic Italian opera performance has all the essential elements of a Hindi movie.

As the musicians, dressed in black and seated in the open space in front of the stage at Kamani Auditorium, started playing their instruments, guided by conductor Antonio Giovanni Bono, their notes fluctuated from the joyous to the dramatic. This was the opening piece of Italian composer Gaetano Donizettis popular comic opera Don Pasquale, which was brought to the Capital by the Neemrana Music Foundation, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Instituto Italiano di Cultura.

The performance, which started after observing a minute of silence in respect of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, had a mix of Italian and Indian actors. As the curtains rose, an old character called Don Pasquale was seen sitting on a chair in his house. The three-act comic opera revolves around a lead character by the same name, which was played by Italian actor Giovanni di Mare. The ageing man, in an attempt to disinherit his nephew Ernesto his sole heir at the moment decides to get married. Meanwhile, his friend Dr Malatesta tries to foil his plan and arranges a marriage between Pasquale and his young sister Norina, who is coincidently Ernestos lover. She seduces the fat man, makes him fall in love with her and then ditches him.

Interestingly, the opera was performed in Italian. Opera is a universal language. Just like I watch Bollywood movies and understand the gist of the story simply by the actors expressions, similarly, the audience here could understand the storyline just by observing our expressions, said Aude Priya, who played Norina. According to her, the performance had all the ingredients of a typical Hindi film complete with a villain, a hero and a heroine.

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