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Commentary

Meera bai [Source: Wikipedia]
03 Mar 2015

Mirabai: New opera, holograms and eternal love

A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic 16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels — artistically, technically and creatively.

Mirabai: New opera, holograms and eternal love

Above: Meera bai [Source: Wikipedia]

 

The project has an existing relationship with Musion3D, the world leader in cutting edge holographic technology, which offers unparalleled creative possibilities to engage audiences.

This unusual, unique project has already attracted the interest of acclaimed and multi award winning film director Tony Palmer, who is interested in making a film of the opera, speaking of its universal appeal and potential for enormous international success. “Every element of Mirabai is fascinating — the music, the story, the holograms. This is something which has to be attempted.” He directed a short film of the Krishna dance scene (a version of which was shown at the annual Kinetica Art Festival in London) and appears in a 7 minute video trailer about Mirabai, explaining why he is passionate about the project.

“I have always been a huge admirer of Tony’s work, and he is the perfect director for Mirabai,” comments Seaman. “We are grateful for all his continued belief and support.”

Another fan of the opera is celebrated Russian operatic soprano Marina Poplavskaya, who recorded the Saraswati hologram.

The Mirabai journey began 5 years ago, during which the project has benefited from a range of supporters and advocates. So how was the idea conceived? Seaman reveals, “After a visit to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London (known as the Neasden Temple) I began to explore the life of Mira, whose subversive love for her favourite god Krishna was expressed through her mystic songs and dancing; she sacrificed everything and paid the price. Born into the Rajput aristocracy in the early 16th century, Mira incurred disapproval by choosing Krishna above the deity worshipped by the family into which she had married; and singing and dancing in public in praise of Krishna was behaviour thought unseemly for a princess. Mira confounded societal expectations, rejecting materialism for spiritual awareness and becoming the symbol of a woman who chose her own path and found liberation in non-violent resistance. ”

With poet, dancer and singer/songwriter Mariam Al-Roubi, the composer has been creating a spectacular new opera that is a fusion of intoxicating music, dance, hallucinatory imagery, lighting and pioneering holographic projection to enhance the dreamlike scenes. Says Seaman, “It is a love story, at the same time erotic and divine, and underpinned by international cultural and historical references to emphasise its universal nature, through the Ghosts — spectral figures from other historical times and places. They shine their own light on love, and include characters from Plato’s Symposium, St Teresa of Avila and Argentine tango dancers. The audience does not need to know about Hinduism, or be familiar with these references for the opera to make sense to them, because they are used as a means to communicate the deepest and simplest of human emotions. Like its heroine, Mirabai writes its own rules, communicating in a musical and theatrical language that is rich and vibrant.”

Mirabai is the third of a trilogy. The first two pieces were large-scale choral works: The Consoling Song (words in Sanskrit from the Bhagavad Gita; commissioned by The Brighton Singers and first performed in Brighton UK 2002) and Bhajans (words by Nimisha Patel and Elizabeth Newman; commissioned by The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton and first performed in Binghamton NY USA 2007). In March 2013, The Lake, and Petals, two excerpts from Mirabai, were premiered by the Ealing Symphony Orchestra.

Act 3 of the opera, in which Mira ascends to Vrindivan, where Krishna dwells, is almost completed. Exploring opportunities for innovative and pioneering collaborations with visionary partners is an essential part of the process in order to reach and engage with the widest possible audience. What is needed now is an opera company who recognises the power and potential of Mirabai to attract both existing and new opera and music lovers — now and for future generations.

To see, hear or find out more about Mirabai, contact Jane Seaman, Project Development Manager at workingwords50@gmail.com or Tel: 01622 677214 or 07905 825650

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