Draupadi : Opera in four acts
by Nicholas Routley (2016)
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Library shelf no. 782.1/ROU 2 [Available for loan]
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Imagine Wagner, with tunes the singers sing. Imagine Wagner where some of the action and music moves as fast as Mozart. Imagine a mythic story more powerful, more human, and far better known than the Norse myths.
In the mythical past of India, the Princess Draupadi marries 5 brothers. She is violently humiliated by a cousin of her husbands, an event which gives rise to war between the two branches of their clan. She vows not to wash her hair until she is revenged. After a terrible war one of her husbands tears out the liver of the cousin. Unlike most operatic heroines, she does not die but washes her hair ecstatically in his blood.
There are gorgeous tunes, and extremes of human passion. It is a director's dream: less prescriptive than Wagner, but offering comparable scope for presentation on many visual, symbolic, and psychological planes.
The style is 20th century (Adams, Britten, Prokofiev), but never atonal. Its harmonic language spans most of the Western musical tradition. It makes only occasional reference to Indian classical music. Its conception owes much to Peter Brook's version of Mahabharata, performed in the late 1980s.
Instrumentation: 10 principal singers, chorus, orchestra of 15 players (flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat, bassoon, 2 horns in F, trombone, percussion (2 players), harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass).
Duration: 140 min.
Contents note: Act 1: Scene I. The courtyard of a splendid palace -- Scene II. The hut in which the disguised Pandavas are living -- Scene III. The pavillion, spacious and beautiful, in the Pandavas' court at Indraprastha -- Scene IV. The women's quarters at Hastinapura, palace of the Kauravas -- Scene V ; Act 2: Scene I. The forest -- Scene II ; Act 3: Scene I. The forest -- Scene II. Virata's court, almost a year later -- Scene III. The next morning -- Scene IV. Virata's court ; Act 4: Scene I -- Scene II -- Scene III.
- Has as subject/About: Indian culture
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