ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
TV Times  

Menaka and Peshali to perform in an international opera board

The ‘Neemrana Foundation has invited soprano Menaka de Fonseka Sahabandu and mezzo soprano Peshali Yapa to play Frasquita and Mercedes in their forthcoming production of the opera ‘Carmen’ by Bizet. The Foundation has also invited Menaka Singers under the direction of Menaka de Fonseka Sahabandu to join the chorus of the production and the opera will be performed at the Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi on April 17, 18, 19 and 20.

The Neemrana Foundation which was founded by Francis Wacziarg in India will be producing "Carmen" as its third opera production after "The Fakir of Benaris" and "The Pearl Fishers". The aim of the foundation is to promote western classical music in India, train local talent through classes and workshops and build up an opera repertoire for performances in India and abroad.

"Carmen" by Georges Bizet is an opera in three acts and is one of the most popular and most performed operas in the world. It is set in Spain and consists of many well-known artistes and choruses. Sixty Indian and Sri Lankan singers, seven dancers and 20 French artistes will come together for this Indian premiere under the baton of French conductor Claire Lavacher and directed by Patricia Panton, resident producer and director of the Monte Carlo opera.

The invitation for the Sri Lanka choir was initiated by the huge success of "The Pearl Fishers" opera in which the director Patricia Panton was most impressed by the talent and musicianship shown by the Sri Lankan singers who were directed by Menaka de Fonseka Sahabandu. This is the first time a Sri Lankan choir has been invited to perform in an international opera abroad.

Menaka, a Fellow of the Trinity College, London and a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music in both piano and singing, has been a frequent soloist with the Symphony Orchestra since her debut in 1989 playing Saint Saens' 2nd Piano Concerto in G minor. She has also been soloist with the Orchestra in Handel's "Messiah", Saint Saens' "Christmas Oratorio" and arias from Faust, Marriage of Figaro, Don Pasquale, Die Fledermaus and works by Deva Surya Sena to name but a few. More recently she has been involved in fusion music for sitar and voice.

She also plays the violin with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka. Menaka's teaching career goes back 22 years. She directs her own choir 'Menaka Singers', and also collaborates with both instrumentalists and singers. She was the Choral and Music Director for Gilbert and Sullivan's ‘Iolanthe’ staged in Colombo in May 2007 and Chorus Director for.

‘The Pearl Fishers" opera in January 2008. She has been a winner of the Sawasangeetha scholarship for Western Music presented by the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in 1987/88, and a recepient of the Award of Excellence in Music presented by the SAARC Women's Association in 2002.

Peshali Yapa (Mezzo Soprano) graduated with Honours from the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, Netherlands. As a member of the Conservatory choir conducted by the International award winning conductor Peter Dijkstra, she has performed with the Resident Orchestra of The Hague and the Symphony Orchestra of the Royal Conservatory, in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. She was a soloist in the award winning choir Quod Libet.

Peshali has given a number of solo performances in many cities in the Netherlands. She has performed as a soloist with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka on many occasions. She is the Chorus Master of the Chamber choir Camerata Musica.

An old girl of Ladies' College, Colombo she trains and conducts the OGA choir. The holder of a double Bachelor of Music degree in Performance and Teaching, she is presently one of the Music Directors at the Asian International School, Colombo and has her own teaching practice.

The Sri Lankan chorus for this opera consists of Eriko Perera, Tahanee Aluwihare, Andrina de Mel, Dushyanth Aluwihare, Sharmila Panditharatne, Sureka Amarasinghe, Laknath Seneviratne, Yohan Pieris, Geethika Cooray and Milinda Perera.

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