Operatic offerings

Summer Sonata, a month-long festival of films showcasing popular ballet and opera films, is on at the IIC all June

Opera and ballet are not restricted to winter any more. For lovers of western classical music, here’s a chance to indulge yourself in ‘Summer Sonata’, a month-long festival where recordings of the best performances will be screened.

Starting from June 6, it will feature a variety of works, from adaptations of Shakespeare, Matthew Bourne’s version of the iconic Russian classical ballet Sleeping Beauty, to Claudio Monteverdi’s grand, sensual opera Vespers of the Blessed Virgin.

The festival has been an annual fixture for 11 years now, and is curated by Rajendra Prasad Jain, an ardent promoter and devotee of western classical music. “I got in touch with IIC in 2007 and started screening the films,” he says.

The programme is put together in June every year when live performances of ballet and opera are pretty rare. “Viewers are grateful for getting the chance to experience popular works from the collection of opera and ballet in air-conditioned comfort. It is a great way to relax in summer,” Jain explains.

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Initially with only four screenings, it has gradually grown over the years. This year, the festival showcases three operas, three ballets and three choral works (large choirs singing from the Bible). Each of these are part of his personal collection, which also includes contributions from his friends. “After returning from Germany in 2005, I started collecting DVDs,” Jain adds.

Jain makes sure to bring something new to the audience in every edition. Seldom is a film repeated. This year, apart from Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet on Romeo and Juliet, other eight films will be screened in the festival for the first time.

A retired professor of German from JNU, his love for western classical music dates back to his school days in London. For a while, he taught music in Germany and settled in India in 2005. For the past 30 years, he has also been giving lectures on western classical music in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The festival is quite well received by the audience. “People look forward to the festival and have been appreciative. Sometimes we even get a full house,” he says.

Hoping that he can continue with the festival in the coming years, he urges all lovers of western classical to attend the festival being held at CD Deshmukh auditorium of IIC. The screenings will conclude on June 30 and are open to all.

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