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Rajesh Pratap Singh for the Opera

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Indian Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh with JJ Valaya
Rajesh Pratap Singh for the Opera
12 th Nov 2011
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Italian Unification, the Embassy of Italy is staging an unusual opera in which young Indian and Italian musicians will jointly perform at Siri Fort Auditorium here this coming Tuesday. Titled Cavalleria Rusticana, the opera's unique selling point is that it will be conducted by an Indian, Vijay Upadhyaya, who has had the distinction of being the conductor of the China National Symphony for the past three years. A majority of the Indian musicians, handpicked from across 13 States, in this opera come from cities like Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Bangalore and Chennai. Cavalleria Rusticana caused a sensation back when it was first performed in Rome in 1890. It ushered in the Verismo movement and was performed over 14,000 times in Italy alone before the death of composer-cum-conductor Pietro Mascagni in 1945. According to Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice Di Monteforte, this particular opera is regarded one of the classics of realism. “At the time of its debut, it was a spectacular success. Based on a play by Giovanni Verga, the story explores love and jealousy and will certainly be an unforgettable experience for the audience. This one-act opera will be a special one because Indian musicians from the National Youth Orchestra will perform along with their Italian counterparts from the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana Scuola di Musica di Fiesole. We intend to strengthen the bond between our two countries, each blessed with a strong cultural heritage,” he says. Shedding light on the opera, Mr. Upadhyaya says it will undoubtedly be a challenging task to conduct an orchestra in which Indian and Italian musicians must come together. “The orchestra will be complicated because it will be in dialogue form. As conductor, I will have to understand what each member of the orchestra is communicating. We will soon commence rehearsals in which musicians from both countries will perform together,” he says. Describing himself as a product of globalisation, Mr. Upadhyaya says finalising this project took a long time. “Through this performance we hope to educate the Indian audience on the nuances of opera,” he adds. Italian soprano Francesca Patane, who will perform as the main character Santuzza, says music lovers are drawn to Italian opera because of its unusual way of experimenting with things. “The language will be vulgar, typical of the bygone era. Overall, the opera will epitomise passion,” she says. For Giovanna Berti from the Italian orchestra, performing in Delhi promises to be quite an experience. “This is my first trip to your beautiful and culturally diverse country. We are heartened by the fact that the Indians selected have an undiminished passion for music. Our Italian musicians will complement them on the wind instruments,” she says. Fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh has designed the costumes for the opera.

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