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From Bollywood dramas to opera

Norwegian conductor Anne Randine Overby grew up on Bollywood melodramas as a schoolgirl in south India. That is one of the reasons why, as a music student in Norway, it was the opera form that she found most attractive.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2010 03:01 IST
Aarefa Johari

Norwegian conductor Anne Randine Overby grew up on Bollywood melodramas as a schoolgirl in south India.
That is one of the reasons why, as a music student in Norway, it was the opera form that she found most attractive.

Overby, who lived in India from age five to 18, is one of the 34 women conductors among 1,000 male ones in Europe.

This month, when she conducts Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera Tosca at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), she will be the first woman to conduct music in India.

“Women make for better opera conductors because they are better managers and understand the psychology of how 200 cast and crew members work together,” said Overby, who was forced to start her own operatic choir, Opera Bergen, early in her career because she never got jobs in the male-dominated field.

“With men, the ego always comes in the way.”

Today, the renowned conductor and producer has more than 80 operas to her credit, and is overjoyed to be back to her “second home” for Tosca.

“My parents were missionaries in Bangladesh, and I went to a Norwegian boarding school in the Nilgiris,” said Overby.
Though she has returned to India after 27 years, Overby still remembers the garam chai of Calcutta and traces of Hindi, Bengali and even Santhali.

“All these years, I never thought I would perform in India because it had no professional orchestras. Now I am impressed with the talent it has produced,” said Overby, who will conduct not only two shows of Tosca on September 28 and 30, but also a musical gala of famous Andrew Lloyd Webber songs on September 23 and 24.

“Puccini is the best and most modern composer in opera who wrote short, two-hour operas which never get boring for even a minute,” said Overby.