Gina writes:

Last week, three strange things happened.

  1. First, we found out about an opera company performing in Koraput.
  2. Then, we realized that there were actually TWO opera companies in Koraput, set up in separate fields, performing two separate operas.
  3. Last, we heard that the time of the performances was from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.!
Knowing these things, how could we say no to a trip to the opera?!

Corey is in Delhi this week on VSO business, so Nancy (fellow Kput volunteer) got tickets for her, Kevin (another Kput volunteer), and me. We met at 10 p.m. at the gates of flashing neon.

Given the time of the performance, I was curious about the content of the show...would it be risque? why is it an overnight performance? would other women be there? However, my boss told me earlier in the day that the opera (in India? in Orissa?) has always been held at that time, that it's tradition. Families eat their dinner slightly earlier than usual and then go to the opera. Which made more sense once we arrived and saw lots of women and even children at the show.

We had seat in the front row, which would have been better if the stage wasn't 4 feet off the ground and surrounded by 5 foot gates and banks of lights! I suppose the front-row seats were an honor, but we had to work to find a line of sight to view the stage properly.

For one hour before the actual opera, there was a variety show. This was my favorite part of the night, especially the upbeat dance numbers. For these songs, 10 or more men and women would dance with insanely fast moves.

It's also tradition for men to dress up in women's clothing during some of these songs! Conservative India never fails to surprise!

The opera itself was about what I expected, lots of talking broken up by song and dance numbers, though the music was more like Hindi film music than what I would call opera music.

Since I couldn't understand the dialogue (it was in Oriya of course), I spent way too much time giggling to myself at the sight of the actors making their way to the various microphones hanging from the ceiling and then speaking up into them!

People near us interpreted every once in awhile, so we got the gist of the story. Something about a teacher's daughter, a divorce, a pregnancy, multiple know, typical Indian film storyline. The dance numbers in between the dialogue were fun to watch, but after a few hours, we felt as though we'd gotten a lot out of the experience without taking up our entire night. We left at about 1:30 a.m.

A bonus experience was the chance to walk through Koraput's streets while they were completely empty and silent. Kind of a surreal experience.

Nancy heard that the opera is returning in mid-January. I think Corey and I will go, it's a good way to spend a dollar!

Thanks to Nancy for pictures 1, 4, and 5.