Mumbai, July 10 (IANS) The Italians, past masters at staging and appreciating operas, gave Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” a standing ovation when it was staged in Spoleto, Italy. “Padmavati”, Bhansali’s version of a 1923 ballet written by Albert Roussel, had its first performance in Italy in June end.
“This was a much smaller, far more intimate theatre than the one in Paris, which was huge. So we had far more limited space on stage and a much more compact audience,” Bhansali told IANS. The audience in Paris too had accorded Bhansali a standing ovation.
“Also, the cast from Paris was changed. So I had to start in Spoleto from scratch, get familiar with the new environment and the cast,” he added. The 1,800-strong audience gave the opera a standing ovation and shouted “Bravo bravo”.
Apart from “Padmavati”, Bhansali’s four films – “Khamoshi”, “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”, “Black” and “Saawariya” – were screened there. While a sizeable part of the Parisian crew changed in Italy, the elephant and tiger that formed a part of the opera in Paris remained the same.
And the elephant, surprisingly recognised Bhansali – so much so that during the rehearsals leading up to the first performance June 27, the animal followed the director’s instructions with complete sicererity.
The tiger was harder to deal with. Since it made its appearance in the Parisian version of “Padmavati”, the tiger had grown bigger and quite intimidating to the chorus dancers who ran to the other end of the stage during rehearsals each time the tiger roared.
“To bring an opera to a country where this genre originated is to me a matter of great pride. I feel more challenged here than I did in Paris. Everyone, who attended my two shows on June 27 and 29, were seasoned opera aficionados. I couldn’t afford to slip up.”
Now, Spoleto has become Bhansali’s favourite spot in the world. “The quaint little streets, the fresh air, the fruits and milk… I could just move to Spoleto right now. I think I’ve created one more star in the elephant, Baby. She too got a standing ovation.”
The opera now moves to Brazil at the end of the year.
— By Subhash K. Jha