Many of us might remember growing up watching "The Mahabharata" on TV, VHS or DVD. The television epic in Hindi created a milestone in terms of mythological serials in the Indian subcontinent. Now, "The Mahabharata" is ready for the stage at The Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Academy is presenting the Bhagavad Gita in the form of a 70-minute chamber opera, "Arjuna's Dilemma," by Douglas C. Cuomo, The New York Times reports.
“As soon as I began thinking about the Bhagavad-Gita again, I was very excited,” he said recently. “There were great opportunities for emotional singing, a real spiritual element and a level of metaphor that was greatly appealing to me. I felt I could examine the philosophy in a musical way. Music gave me a way of naming the nameless.”
In the English version of this epic saga, Indian singer Amit Chatterjee is the voice for Krishna; he sings segments of the musical in raga style, in Sanskrit. His American counterpart, Tony Boutte, a Baroque and contemporary specialist, sings Arjuna, also in Sanskrit, accompanied by female chorus in English, The Times reports.
Prior to Cuomo's version, which premieres in New York on Nov. 5, the Bhagavad Gita was staged in San Fransisco as an opera titled "Doctor Atomic" by Peter Sellars in 2005. Philip Glass's opera "Satyagraha" is another adaptation of the epic, which was first performed in Rotterdam in 1980 and last year in New York City. Peter Brook's "The Mahabharata," was a 1980s play and a film which was seen around the world.
It's easy on the ear, and very beguiling..."Arjuna's Dilemma" has something a lot of new operas don't: appeal. Opera is an art form that was for many years the ne plus ultra of popular entertainment. That aspect of it is all too easy to lose sight of, as many current pieces show. Opera, to work, has to have a certain understanding of what drama is, and how it functions. But it also has to have an audience, and "Arjuna's Dilemma," for all its flaws, has a pretty good chance of attracting one.
Official info at BAM.org. Post your comments below.