He is known as the man who has infused life into several crumbling monuments and opened them up as habitable ‘non-hotel’ hotels. But there is more to the Neemrana founder than heritage hotels. In an interview to Akrita Reyar of Zeenews.com, Francis Wacziarg, talks about The Neemrana Music Foundation and his attempt to bring western music and operas to India.
Mozart Magic in India has been a great show. What made ‘The Neemrana Music Foundation’ bring the Mozart mosaic to Delhi?
Mozart is an all time favourite all over the world! So it was normal to bring it to India for the first time.
After experimenting with operas, many of which, had South Asian touches like ‘The Fakir of Benaras’, ‘The Pearl Fishers’ and ‘If I Were King’, Mozart Magic was a pure combination of Mozart operas. How was the reaction of audiences here, especially the open air performance at Connaught Place?
The open air would have been better in better weather, but it is an experiment worth repeating. It was well attended and appreciated.
Mozart Magic in India has been unique in the sense that it is a medley of excerpts of several Mozart creations than a presentation of a full opera. What is the idea behind this?
Full operas are difficult to set up, as long as we do not have a proper opera house in Delhi with proper acoustics. And that is exorbitantly expensive!
From hotel business to promotion of classical music, are heritage and music a personal passion?
They all are linked and part of conservation of tangible and intangible heritage.
Since the inception of ‘The Neemrana Music Foundation’ nearly a decade ago, do you find Indians warming up to the idea of taking up classical music and opera as full-time careers?
Yes, the audience in India is accepting western music and opera more and more. In fact there had been few opportunities till The Neemrana Music Foundation started having performances.
With the success of composers like AR Rahman, who use a confluence of sounds – Indian and International- and availability of tools like Youtube and online radio stations, do you think the new generation of Indians is more exposed to western music?
Yes, all these tools help, and then, why not India? China, Korea, Japan have a lot of western music already.
Is western classical music as popular as ever globally, or is it facing a challenge of being viewed as too niche?
In fact, western classical music is becoming increasingly popular as many festivals feature operas, concerts and recitals all over the world.
Who is your favourite composer and which is your favourite composition?
I’m fond of opera, maybe Puccini with La Bohème.
Do you also follow Indian classical music? Any particular artist that you listen to?
Yes, a lot. I listen to all our great artistes, but particularly the vocal music exponents.
Can you draw parallels and differences between western and Indian classical music forms?
The systems of melodies are different. I’m not a technician, and I appreciate both forms equally. So I would not like to draw any parallels and differences…