Opera at Rutgers presents Leo Delibes’s "Lakmé" Jan. 30, Feb. 1, 6 and 8, 2015

Come on, you’ve heard the ethereal music before, wafting through British Airways TV commercials, highlighted in films as disparate as Sex and the City and Scary Movie 5. Leo Delibes’s “Flower Duet,” from his 1883 opera, Lakmé, is the go-to aria for countless directors who wish to alert the audience to An Important Moment That Is Beyond Words.

“Everyone is familiar with ‘The Flower Duet,’ but the rest of the score is stunning,” says Pamela Gilmore, co-coordinator of the opera program at Rutgers and producer of Lakmé, running January 30 through February 8, 2015, on campus at Nicholas Music Center. The three-act opera with the lush score is set in 19th-century India and features a taboo romance between a British officer and the daughter of a Brahmin priest.

Gilmore says she and the director, E. Loren Meeker, are determined that the production avoid “false Indian or British stereotypes.”

To that end, Gilmore is collaborating with choreographer Sudha Devulapalli and performers from Devulapalli’s Kalanjali School of Dance in Kendall Park, New Jersey. Gilmore says choosing to feature classical dance forms from India instead of ballet is a way to craft a more “authentic” view of 19th-century India under British rule. Gilmore says Devulapalli has been on hand to make sure details such as costuming, forms of address, and portrayals of Hindu traditions are credible.

And Gilmore says Lakmé, which will be performed in French with supertitles, remains relevant nearly a century and a half after its Paris premiere.

“We are seeing culture clashes all over the world--in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, with the LGBT community here,” she says. “The culture clashes have never gone away. They plague us forever.” 

Lakmé runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays, January 30 and February 6, and 2 p.m. Sundays, February 1 and February 8, 2015, at Nicholas Music Center, in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George St. at Ryders Lane, on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for Rutgers alumni, employees and senior citizens, $5 for students with valid I.D. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu, or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511.

Watch Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca sing "The Flower Duet."

Posted January 2015