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Ode to joy: Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra makes Indian debut

Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra and London Festival Opera to perform some of the most iconic works of western classical music in New Delhi

Photo courtesy: The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra
Photo courtesy: The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra

With 400 artists performing across four venues over three days, the “Global Carnival" sounds like a cultural ultra-marathon. Appropriately, it’s at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The extravaganza is being organized by Navrasa Duende, a Delhi-based production house with enormous ambitions of bringing world arts to the public. It last flexed its muscle in September, bringing a Ukrainian troupe to perform Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s much loved ballet Swan Lake in Delhi.

The carnival (23-25 February) will represent 20 genres of music and dance, covering everything from Indian and Western classical music to jazz, EDM (electronic dance music), break dance and Kuchipudi. For Western classical music aficionados, though, the two highlights will be the concerts by The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) and the London Festival Opera (LFO).

It’s DPO’s first trip to India. “We have performed many outdoor concerts before, but nothing as large as this stadium gig," says the conductor, Derek Gleeson, on email. DPO’s programme, titled Romancing The Romantic Era, includes musical gems from the late 18th- and early 19th-century Romantic movement when music was generally informed by uninhibited outpourings of emotion. A few highlights include Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No.2, the dreamy first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Johannes Brahms’ famous Hungarian Dance No.5.

While the DPO will regale audiences with instrumental masterpieces, London Festival Opera singers will belt out some of the most well-known arias (a showy solo song in an opera) in their show A Night At The Opera. “It features some of the most wonderful music ever written by the masters of Western music, including Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi and Puccini," writes LFO director Philip Blake-Jones on email.

Some of the iconic arias include La donna è mobile from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, Voi che sapete from Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro and Largo al factotum from Giachino Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville. But the showstopper will be the Queen Of The Night’s aria from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. If there is one operatic piece that could live up to the image of a soprano shattering glass with her singing alone, this is it. It’s full of beautiful high-pitched acrobatics that send a chill down one’s spine.

The two concerts are a rare chance to listen live to some of the most loved music to have come out of the West, its emotional range stretching from exhilaration to despair.

While Navrasa Duende wants to “promote arts and entertainment in a very holistic way", one hurdle will be steep pricing. Tickets for the Irish orchestra concert start at Rs1,770 and go up to Rs20,650 (a top-end price that is unheard of for a symphony concert even in London, Berlin or New York). Today, when it’s possible to stream concerts (at a fractional or no cost) from the finest orchestras of the world, the exorbitant pricing is one challenge that can’t be ignored.

The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra and London Festival Opera will perform from 23-25 February, at the Navrasa Duende Global Carnival. For details, visit here .

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