A Bollywood-style operatic performance by the students of A.R. Rahman’s K.M. Music Conservatory

“I think Chennai is ready for opera,” a confident Adam Grieg, academic director, K.M. Music Conservatory, announces. And he has good reason to believe so. “Whenever we have performed in public in the past, the reception has been great,” he says. The last show that the students of Western classical and operatic singing at the school, who learn both singing and stage presence, put up turned out so well that they have now decided to throw the gates open to the public. And for free. “It’s amazing what just two to three years of training can do. This performance will be a testament to that,” Adam says.

Indeed, it is admirable how 70 to 80 students who have had little exposure to international music until two years ago learnt the ropes of putting together a full-fledged professional show. “It will be a Bollywood-like high drama performance with movement and action,” he says.

The show titled Opera Scenes will have three scenes. “The first scene The Mikado has been directed by Namrata Shah, a Gujarati from Kenya, and is set in Japan; a comical tale of a woman and her two husbands,” he says. The second scene is an original piece Lobby directed by Gilles Denizot and is set in the lobby of an international hotel. “It’s a story about human interactions,” Adam informs. The scene will feature pieces by Bellini, Elgar, Fauré, Schumann, and contemporary percussion with music arranged and conducted by Adam.

“It has a fast-paced piece with even DJs and percussionists playing along,” he adds. The third and final scene, Carmen directed by Hratsjuhi Aramian is a set in the south of Spain, Seville. The story is that of a young soldier in love with a gypsy — torn between honour and passion. Each scene is a “self-contained one-act performance, complete with costumes, set, and staging.”

“We have done two opera shows so far but never for the public and we think now it’s time to expose the city to the kind of musicians we are training here.” Students work throughout their time at the Conservatory on these productions as they are woven into the coursework. It will be like a trip to the cinemas which draws heavily from the operatic tradition. A high impact show that deals with love, humour, rejection and drama. A.R.Rahman is also expected to attend the event — sitting right in the front row encouraging his students. “We are hopeful that Rahman sir will attend, he has attended all the previous annual events to show his support for the students,” Adam adds.

Opera Scenes will be staged on May 11, 7p.m., at Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall