UK opera house hunts for Indian philanthropists to back new Krishna masterpiece

Sir John Tavener  (Photo by Gareth Davies/Getty Images)
Sir John Tavener (Photo by Gareth Davies/Getty Images)

A leading UK professional opera company and charity on Wednesday (8) launched an appeal to Indian philanthropists to support a hidden opera on Lord Krishna which is set for its world premiere in England in June, 2024.

Grange Park Opera, based at West Horsley Place in Surrey in south-east England, said Krishna was acclaimed British composer Sir John Tavener’s final opera completed in 2005 but the “masterpiece” has never been performed before.

In 2024, it will be given its world premiere at Grange Park Opera’s Theatre in the Woods in Surrey, directed by British opera great Sir David Pountney.

“We are now actively searching for collaborators to give premieres in Europe and, of course, in India. The search for Indian philanthropists begins,” said Wasfi Kani, Grange Park Opera CEO and Founder.

The ambitious project tells the story of Lord Krishna’s cycle of life based on the text by Tavener, who died aged 69 in 2013.

According to the opera house, in 15 vignettes a “celestial narrator” delivers the story of Krishna’s birth when the earth is crying for help and then is assumed into Paradise until the earth needs him again.

“The narrator describes each scene in the simplest possible way. He moves freely in the audience, explaining the double meaning, charming, frightening and consoling us. The music is intensely vivid and highly dramatic,” according to Tavener’s own explanation of his work.

Grange Park Opera revealed several challenging aspects to the work’s staging, including Lord Krishna being given a “halo” of eight flutes, which are to be “aerially positioned”.

The composition remained undiscovered until Tavener’s widow, Lady Tavener, informed Prince Charles of its existence, aware of the royal’s admiration for the late composer’s work. The heir to the British throne in turn contacted his friend, Sir David Pountney, to consider staging it because they both “share views on the importance of all religious traditions”.

Pountney, in turn, got in touch with Wasfi Kani at Grange Park Opera in October 2019, and the work has been in the works ever since.

“Within two days I was at Chester Music examining the 358 giant sheets of Tavener’s manuscript. It quickly became clear this was a masterpiece that needed to be brought to life,” recalls Kani.

Like most musical and theatrical establishments, the Grange Park Opera’s 2020 season has also come to a standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic, with regulars and other supporters urged for any donations through the current lockdown conditions.