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Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

Beethoven Goes Bollywood

Skylight’s colorfully choreographed ‘Fidelio’

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Skylight Music Theatre under its new artistic director, Viswa Subbaraman, opened the season in daring and innovative style. Speaking nervously from the stage (and why not? India’s ambassador to the U.S., Nirupama Rao, was in attendance), Subbaraman introduced this unique production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, as a nod to both his Western training and his Indian heritage. It’s unlikely that the words “Bollywood” and “Beethoven” have appeared together in many sentences before this delightful, if slightly awkward, brainchild was born.

This production features fanciful sets by Indian animator and interactive art innovator Raghava KK, gorgeous costumes by Karen Brown-Larimore and lavish dances—the finale is a particular highlight—choreographed by Deepa Devasena that transport you to a place of saffron and marigolds.

Ensemble singing outshone individual voices in this performance: The quartet in the first act sang with great sensitivity as did the men’s chorus of prisoners, and the trio in the second act was lovely. The Bollywood aspect added comedic gestures more suited to The Magic Flute than to the serious drama of Fidelio, but as a bold artistic endeavor, Skylight gets high marks. Was the audience pleased? No question. Was Beethoven served? Less likely. Was it fun? Absolutely.

At curtain calls, in a rarely done and thoughtful gesture, Subbaraman publicly thanked the entire Skylight administrative and production staff.

Fidelio runs at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre through Oct. 6. For tickets, call 414-291-7800 or visit skylightmusictheatre.org.

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