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Fakir of the French opera

Fakir of the French opera
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Internationally-acclaimed SAMUDRA dance group performed a Ballet Segment in an excerpt from the French opera The Fakir of Benares, presented as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of The Neemrana Music Foundation, on December 5 and 6, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

The Foundation’s anniversary gala, co-presented by the European Union, celebrates a decade of opera in India. The Fakir of Benares (2003) was the first opera ever performed in Delhi. Samudra performed a segment of the opera at the time and they have been invited again to be a part of it.

Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev, the incredibly brilliant Choreographers, Directors and Principal Dancers of Samudra who have performed  in 48 countries – which includes an applause-winning performance at  The Royal Opera House, London, are going to present a  mesmerising show  at the
Neemrana Festival. They also choreographed sequences for the opening and closing ceremonies of The 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Madhu and Sajeev founded Samudra in 1998 and have since been training dancers in the new style and touring the world with their original choreographic productions.

A French opera by playwright Leo Manuel, The Fakir of Benares, was a massive hit when it was first staged in Paris in 1922. The opera’s exotic Indian milieu, the grandiose sets and costumes, the beautiful music and powerful performances made it one of the most successful shows of its time.

But the glory of the opera lasted only a short while, as a massive fire destroyed most of the costumes and sets, and the complete score was lost during the Second World War.

The opera was largely forgotten until 2002, when Priya Wacziarg, a soprano, came upon the score of the opera in a bookshop in Paris. It took them a while to put together an orchestra and a choir. In 2003, the first production of The Fakir of Benares in 80 years was ready for the stage.

Famous director Muzaffar Ali undertook to do the stage direction, after a French conductor recomposed the missing orchestral parts.

Muzaffar Ali lent the quintessentially French opera a genuine Indian touch by incorporating two ballets rooted in Indian classical dance. Samudra, was chosen to perform one of these.

The Neemrana Music Foundation, established in New Delhi by Priya’s father, the late Francis Wacziarg, has produced nine operas over a decade.

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