‘Opera Scenes' staged as part of KM Music Conservatory's annual day celebrations gave a peek into the musical prowess of the students
Outside the Museum Theatre in Egmore, a young crowd in blazers, kurtas and dhotis discuss music over tea and cake. They are courteous and polite and the air around them is buzzing with tunes and vibrant chatter. It is the fourth annual day celebrations of KM Music Conservatory, and ‘Opera Scenes 2012' is about to begin.
Principal A. R. Rahman is seated in the front, well before time while parents and students whisper outside the tall, wooden doors and sneak a peek at the musician. Half an hour after the scheduled time, the doors open and the seats fill up.
Opera Scenes 2012 has excerpts from three popular musicals and operas, ‘West Side Story' and ‘La Traviata'. ‘West Side Story' by Arthur Laurents is inspired by William Shakespeare's ‘Romeo and Juliet' and narrates the love story of Maria and Tony. The lovers meet at a ball, where they dance through the evening and when the party is over, Tony finds her home, and they sing a duet.
The lead singers have delightfully resonant voices, moving across each pitch with such ease and precision, that you are left wondering if it is really that simple. “Do you love everything I see?” they sing, lost to the world, and sign off, in a love-struck daze with “When you dream, dream of me, tonight.”
The second scene has Maria surrounded by her friends, as she dreams of her lover, singing “I feel pretty, witty and bright”. She walks around in a dream while her friends try to bring her back to reality. “Have you met my good friend Maria?” they sing, “She thinks she's in love, she isn't. She's merely insane.” While there is musical accompaniment, the singers are perfectly in tune, like in a cappella.
‘La Traviata' is entertaining, with lovely solo renditions, interspersed with lively dances, clear voices and contemporary numbers. There is an almost effortless switch in pitches while the altos give the necessary back up. There is a ballroom scene here too, where two youngsters, Alfredo Germont, the tenor and Violetta meet (she is the soprano). Alfredo's voice is lucid and the consonants are sharp, while Violetta provides good support in the duet with a voice that never wavers.
The final act is a pastiche of Baroque opera, with Hindustani and electronic music; “Pasticcio Madras”. The fusion of the classical and the contemporary is seamless and conductor/pianist Adam Greig brings the entire performing opera under his control with just an efficient swish of his finger.
All the performing arts combine towards the end — theatre, dance, song and music create a colourful medley on what seems like the shore of the Marina beach (the digital backdrop changes with every scene). And then, like most apt endings, the show concludes with the pitter-patter of musical rain.