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Music Events (more headlines) 12-19-2012

Opera Lafayette Revives 19th-century Orientalist Opera Lalla Roukh With Multicultural Collaboration

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Continuing its exploration of opéra-comique, Opera Lafayette makes its first venture into 19th-century opera with the Modern World Premiere of Félicien David's Lalla Roukh (1862), an orientalist fantasy based on the romance "Lalla Rookh" by Thomas Moore. This staged production will be directed by Bernard Deletré, and features costumes by prominent Indian fashion designer Poonam Bhagat, lighting design by Helen Hayes award-winning designer Colin K. Bills, and dance by acclaimed Indian dance troupe Kalanidhi Dance. Artistic Director Ryan Brown will conduct the Opera Lafayette Orchestra and Chorus. This production marks Opera Lafayette's Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater debut on Saturday, January 26, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. and will also be performed at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall on Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. Each performance will be preceded by a free pre-performance talk with Ryan Brown and musicologist Ralph Locke.

In presenting Lalla Roukh, Opera Lafayette has taken both historical performance practice and modern Indian culture into consideration. The result is a multi-cultural collaboration. Modern costumes inspired by the textiles of Samarkand are being created by New Delhi-based designer Poonam Bhagat. Sections of the piece intended for ballet created an opportunity for Opera Lafayette to collaborate with Maryland-based dance company, Kalanidhi Dance, about which The New York Times said, "The Kalanidhi combination of bright energy, full-bodied sweetness and rapid precision…physical detail and expressive nuance…multilayered connection to its music…make for a rare amalgam of prime dance virtues…" Kalanidhi Dance's founder and artist director Anuradha Nehru, and assistant choreographer Chitra Kalyandurg, have choreographed David's music using the movement vocabulary of Kuchipudi, a form of classical Indian dance.

Director and baritone Bernard Deletré will also sing the role of Baskir, a chamberlain sent by the King of Bukhara to accompany his betrothed on the road from Delhi to Samarkand. The title role will be sung by soprano Marianne Fiset, who is making her company debut. Ms. Fiset recently replaced Natalie Dessay in Manon at the Opéra National de Paris. Opera Canada noted that she "brilliantly won over an exacting Parisian audience…Fiset's entrance, wide eyed and fresh, was the first good news of the evening. She immediately impressed with her style..." Soprano Nathalie Paulin and tenor Emiliano Gonzalez Toro return to Opera Lafayette as Lalla Roukh's attendant, Mirza, and the troubadour, Noureddin, respectively. They will be joined by baritones David Newman and Andrew Adelsberger as the guards, Bakbara and Kaboul.

In January, the work will be recorded for future release on the Naxos label. It will be Opera Lafayette's tenth recording for Naxos, and fifth opéra-comique.

This December and January, Opera Lafayette again collaborates with the Alliance Française's Anne Bujon Educational Initiative to introduce French students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary to opera through the story and music of Lalla Roukh. With the help of Opera Lafayette's education docents, students will have the opportunity to act out skits about the story, try their hand at Indian dance, and to learn a chorus from the opera in French.


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