‘Magic’ was the promise made to Delhiites who attended the opera medley of the ultimate master of western classical music last weekend. And Mozart didn’t disappoint. All of us were left spellbound by the compositions he had penned down hundreds of years earlier.
Brought to Delhi by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and The Neemrana Music Foundation, ‘Mozart Magic in India’ was a rare presentation of opera extracts and harmonic synergy of professional artists and fresh young talent.
Conducting the bouquet of operas was Indian origin conductor based in Manhattan, George Mathew. Mathew, who has had the privilege of conducting orchestras at the famed Carnegie Hall, had singing and performing to his baton Indian and French musicians associated with The Bombay Chamber Orchestra, The Rouen Opera House Orchestra and the Neemrana Music Foundation Choir.
Considering that the performance at Siri Fort featured 40 musicians, 40 choir singers, and 12 solo singers, several of whom were trained in France for the performance, Mathew admitted that “it was rather fun to be able to use the fantastic variety of languages and musical idioms in India to illustrate and explain what was needed”.
“It was the first time I have rehearsed in English, French, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam in a single production,” he added.
The rainbow of artists did indeed put up a grand show, the first half of which was dominated by Mozart’s last opera written in 1791, ‘The Magic Flute’. The second half comprised extracts from ‘Laudate Dominum, Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro and Nettuno S’Onori’ among others.
As much as the beauty of Mozart’s music, which needs no eulogies, the operas written by him had great beauty.
A translation of an aria from ‘The Magic Flute’ spoke vividly of beauty and desire:
The likeness is enchantingly lovely
As No eye has ever beheld!
I feel it, as this heavenly picture
My heart with new emotion fills.
This something can I indeed not name,
Yet I feel here like fire burning
While another aria from ‘The Magic Flute’ was about universal fraternity and condemnation of falsehood:
If only all liars would get
Such a padlock in front of their mouth!
Instead of hatred, slander, black temper,
Love and Brotherhood would endure.
The Stage Director for the magnum opus was Jean-Marie Curti, who mainly directs Opera Studio Geneva and has to his credit close to hundred productions.
Among the trainers were the well known Indian soprano Situ Singh Buelher and David Griffiths a baritone who flew in from New Zealand, both of whom provided voice coaching for soloists. Nadya Y Balyan, a Russian origin choral expert, and Gabriella Boda Rechner, who was invited from Hungary, were the choir conductors.
Though it was a dazzling amalgam of rich talent from several corners of the world and a great aural and visual treat, the winning moment for me was only one. The larger than life Mozart image stage staring at us from the screen as the musicians took their bows to the standing ovation. He, after all, was the star of the extravaganza extraordinaire.