Subtle expression of Arjuna's Dilemma


The Bhitri Chowk of Patan Museum had turned into the battlefield of Kuruksetra.

On the eve of the battle, Arjuna faces a dilemma about the war as he sees his own relatives, teachers, friends, and loved ones on the other side. Emotionally paralysed, he who doesn’t want to go on with the battle, calls out to charioteer Krishna in self-doubt and confusion. And Krishna, trying to convince him, implores him to fight and do his duty.

And it is a fine show of Arjuna’s Dilemma. A chamber opera with libretto from the Bhagavada Gita and poetry of Kabir, this one-of-a-kind presentation on Nepali stage is quite a visual and auditory experience. It has been composed by Douglas J Cuomo and directed by Deborah Merola. With the text in Sanskrit, Hindi and English, the contemporary western opera has been depicted through eloquent fusion music and elaborate body language.

Salil Subedi plays Arjuna and Rajkumar Pudasaini plays Krishna. They play their parts through restricted expressions and body movements of emotions like anger, fear, doubt, power while eight other artistes enact their talks through their big body language and expressions. Moreover, international opera singer Roy Stevens embodies Arjuna in tenor, while classical singer Gurudev Kamat embodies Krishna with the classical aura. And there is international opera singer Annalisa Winberg along with a six-member women chorus to embody more of the two leads and their feelings. Also, there is Arjuna’s bow Gandiva, embodied by Alize Biannic.

There is lot of things happening on the stage to treat your eyes. The minimal stage comprising bamboo stairs, bow, wheel and flying arrows against the beautiful backdrop of the chowk is already pleasing.

Arjuna’s Dilemma has been composed by Cuomo and it is a surreal experience. Music directed by Jonathan Khuner, it was executed well in the opera. The fusion operatic music — the incorporation of western style opera singing and music, American jazz and improvisation, North Indian classical singing and tabala — is what is takes the whole act of Arjuna’s Dilemma to another level.

Arjuna’s Dilemma is a presentation of One World Theatre where an array of Nepali and American as well as French, Spanish and Indian among others has come together. The opera which began on September 3 will end on September 11.