Khori Dastoor, newly appointed general director of New Opera San José , has announced her intention to make the company ‘relevant to a wider, more diverse base of music lovers’ by turning Mozart's opera, "The Marriage of Figaro" into a Bollywood-Style Production.
Is this another case of diversity politics, however well-intentioned, gone wrong? Or, is this just a tacky gimmick to bring in Indian audiences to the opera house? Either way, whether you love or hate the idea, it's clear this is not the vision and intention that Mozart had for his opera. If California audiences will even care is another story which remains to be seen. Already, many people have spoken out against the production, with individuals stating,
"What’s next – Die Rosenkavalier set among the uncontacted tribes of the Amazon ?"
"Next step will be performing Beethoven’s quartets with a rock band to make them relevant whatever that means."
So the question is, do we need to ignore the composer's intentions to make an opera more 'relevant'? Or can we grow audiences through more music education & bridging the gap with new operas? Perhaps, a better move would be to hire a woman opera composer to create a brand new opera based on a Bollywood-style theme instead of completely changing a traditional opera with no respect for the composer.
Mozart's Original Poster Sketch for the Premiere in 1786