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Opera returns to the Royal Opera House

After almost a century, Mumbai's iconic Opera House will host Italian Opera 'Il Matrimonio Segreto'

‘Il Matrimonio Segreto’ is the first opera at the Royal Opera House in over 20 years.
‘Il Matrimonio Segreto’ is the first opera at the Royal Opera House in over 20 years.

Sometimes language is not required to understand a story, especially if the story is told through a beautiful opera performance, says Patricia Rozario of Giving Voice to India, a society that aims to promote Western classical singing in India. Over three days, till 29 July, the society is holding its latest showcase: Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) at Mumbai’s iconic Royal Opera House.

“We have noticed so many people watching and listening to opera music online. It is time for the Indian audience to see it live on a bigger scale," says Rozario, a well-known soprano who co-founded Giving Voice to India with her husband, pianist and vocal coach Mark Troop. Rozario and Troop are the artistic directors of Il Matrimonio Segreto, which is based on the English play The Clandestine Marriage. Written by George Colman and David Garrick, the plot revolves around a rich merchant who wants to marry off his elder daughter to an aristocrat. The suitor in question, however, is in love with the younger daughter. This gives rise to a comedy of errors. The two-act opera is sung in Italian, with English subtitles displayed on screens.

The performers, young singers selected by Rozario and Troop from around the world, have been trained by the duo for seven years. “We have young artists from Delhi, Chennai, Liverpool, the US, etc. The only thing that ties them together is that they are all passionate about opera music," says Rozario.

Rozario believes India is well on its way to understanding and accepting opera. Each composer has their individual style of music, sound and use of instrument, all of which go into making opera “an experience" even for new listeners. The duo, who have already done a couple of smaller operas at Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, have tied up with the Symphony Orchestra of India for the music for this production.

What lends even greater importance to this production is that it’s the first full-fledged opera at the Royal Opera House in eight decades—the performance space only reopened in October after a 23-year hiatus. “Most people, especially people in their teenage, equate Opera House with just a location and may not even be aware of its rich legacy. But ask people of an older generation, including an aunt who is in her 80s—and she remembers it as a cinema theatre," says Rozario. “Opera House holds curious memories for each of them. We are trying to recreate those memories."

Il Matrimonio Segreto is playing from 27-29 July at the Royal Opera House Mumbai, Mathew Road, Girgaon. Shows are being held at 7pm (Friday) and 3pm/6.30pm (Saturday). Tickets, Rs300, Rs400, Rs500, Rs800 and Rs1,000, available at the venue.

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