Thursday 22 September 2016

Ravi Shankar's only opera brought to the stage in 2017

David Murphy with Anoushka and Sukanaya Shankar (Ravi Shankar's daughter & wife)  - photo Sim Canetty Clarke
David Murphy with Anoushka & Sukanaya Shankar (Ravi Shankar's daughter & wife)
photo Sim Canetty Clarke
Ravi Shankar's only opera Sukanaya will receive its world premiere as part of a UK tour presented by the Royal Opera, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Curve. The opera will debut at Curve, Leicester on 12 May 2017 as part of their programme celebrating 70 years since India's independence, before touring to The Lowry, Salford (14 May 2017), Symphony Hall, Birmingham (15 May 2017) and the Royal Festival Hall (19 May 2017). A semi-staged production will be directed by Suba Das and conducted by David Murphy, with Susanna Hurrell, Keel Watson, Michel de Souza, the BBC Singers, the London Philharmonic Orchestra (supplemented with Indian classical instruments including the sitar, shennai, tabla, mridangam and ghatam), with dancers and choreography from the Aakash Odedra Company

David Murphy was Ravi Shankar's collaborator on his Symphony which was premiered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010. And it is Murphy who has be responsible for bringing the opera Sukanaya to fruition, with the help of Shankar's daughter Anoushka. Though Shankar had had the idea for the opera some time ago, inspired by the story of his wife's name. He was only able to start working on it towards the end of his life, and had completed it in outline. The libretto by Amit Chaudhuri is based on the Mahābhārata, but also draws on texts by Tagore, Eliot and Shakespeare, and the opera explores the common ground between music, dance and theatre in the West and in India, bringing Indian classical music into opera.

Posthumous works are always something of a problem, how much of the creator is in the finished work and how much of the facilitators (in this case David Murphy and Anoushka Shankar), and does it matter? With his symphony and sitar concertos, Ravi Shankar successfully negotiated the boundaries between Eastern and Western musics to create something of a dialogue. It will be interesting to see how successful he was in bringing this to bear on the complex form of opera.

Full information and tickets from the LPO website.

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