Now ‘Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen’ is opera; to premiere in New York

A scene from
A scene from "Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen", a multi-media chamber opera by Shirish Korde, a Uganda born composer of Indian descent

NEW YORK (TIP): “Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen”, a multi-media chamber opera by Shirish Korde, a Uganda born composer of Indian descent, is set for its world premier shows in New York City on June 26-27.

With a libretto by playwright Anusree Roy and directed by Tom Diamond, the full-length, semi-staged shows will be performed at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre. They are co-presented by the Indo-American Arts Council and Da Capo Chamber Players.

The opera is a series of musically compelling and visually stunning scenes, a riveting dramatization that explores real (and re-imagined) events in the life of the notorious Phoolan Devi, according to a media release.

“Born into poverty, sold as a child bride, abducted by bandits, abused and victimized, imprisoned, elected to India’s Parliament and then tragically gunned down in the streets of New Delhi in 2001, the Bandit Queen was just 37 at the time of her death.”

“Phoolan Devi’s life raises difficult and universal questions about violence and women,” said Korde.

“Her story is so compelling that it was imperative for me to expand my 2006 song cycle into this full length opera which only just begins to capture her extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

Aroon Shivdasani, founder and executive director of the Indo-American Arts Council said: ” The energy and strength of Phoolan Devi is particularly powerful in the context of today’s awakening awareness of decades of brutality towards women.”

Shirish Korde’s compelling score is a distinctive synthesis of Asian and contemporary Western traditions – among them are Indian classical singing, opera, jazz and hip hop.

The award winning playwright/actor Anusree Roy has written a libretto that brings to life a woman of so many contradictions who polarized the Indian population.

The performers include Zorana Sadiq, soprano, and Dashon Burton, bass baritone. They are set against a backdrop of stunning visuals created by multi-media artist Raphaele Shirley.

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