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More operatic experimentation from legendary Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, who worked Sukanya from 1995 until his death in 2012, when it remained unfinished. Conductor David Murphy, who had worked with Shankar, and Anoushka Shankar, the composer’s daughter, have completed the opera. Sukanya, also the name of Shankar’s wife, is based on a story from the Sanskrit Mahābhārata epic, in which a young princess successfully overcomes the challenge of identifying her real husband from twin lookalike demigods. This recording is from live performances in 2017, and it attempts to blend the tonal sound world of Western orchestral music with the microtonal pitch gradations of Northern Indian music, sounds that fall between recognized notes: in essence the overtones of a note can form their own chord. It is a partial success; the dazzling Indian aspects, underpinned by the hypnotic drone of the tambura, build to some startling intensity, obviously much appreciated by the audience at these semi-staged shows. The more tonal Western aspects can be a bit trite and sometimes long-winded, and the attempt of opera singers to bridge the musical gap often sounds clumsy and prosaic. A partially successful attempt to fuse two types of music that perhaps don’t sit in total harmony.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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