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An epic romance

A nineteenth-century Indo-French opera is set to enthrall Delhi audiences early next year.

art and culture Updated: Nov 20, 2009 18:05 IST
Maanvi Malik

The Neemrana Music Foundation is gearing up to present If I Were King, an Indo-French opera by Adolphe Adam, in January. Set in Goa in 1510, it is the love story of a young fisherman, Zephoris, and princess Nemea. The story is about a young fisherman Zephoris, who is in love with princess Nemea. Upon being made king for a day by Mossoul, the king of Goa, he finds that a minister is plotting with the Portuguese to invade Goa. To thank him, Mossoul gives him Nemea in marriage.

Francis Wacziarg, founder, The Neemrana Music Foundation, says, “This opera was written in 1852. We didn’t want it to go wrong in any which way...we have 200 technicians working in it, of which ten singers are from AR Rahman’s institute which teaches western-classical music.” The opera will have hints of Bollywood in it, too. Because the theme of this opera is Indian, the designer, Dominique Pichou, has combined old and modern styles. “I didn’t want it to be a typical epic opera, which is why I, along with designer duo Jai and Paresh, gave it a mixed look that an audience of modern times can relate to.”

“Though this is the first time that we have designed for something like this, the makers of the opera told us that they knew it was only us from India who could come out with the kind of look they wanted...this was the most challenging task for us,” says Paresh. “When we got this project,” he says, “we had decided that we would give it a modern look by making it more arty, as operas give you a platform for experimenting.” Thus, the audience will get to see a doctor with an ambulance light on his head.
If I Were King will premiere in Delhi in January at the Siri Fort Auditorium, from where it’ll travel to USA, Mauritus and Italy, among other places.