BENGALURU: As the 200-year-old St Marks Cathedral echoed with a Soprano performance by Ashwati Parameshwar on November 18, the audience was taken aback with her high-pitched melodious recital of opera songs and arias.
Performing 12 of the classics from a one-act opera piece of Dante’s The Divine Comedy to Goethe’s Faust to many others, the spell-bound audience later complained of goosebumps. Ashwati Parameshwar was performing in Bengaluru for the first time after having a successful Soprano career for four years.
She carefully handpicked all the 12 compositions to be performed exclusively in Bengaluru, mixing popular operas such as Batti Batti by Don Giovanni to the technical and rarely sung Czech opera Song to the Moon. Ashwati also juxtaposed Schubert’s composition when she was 17 to one of his last in the 60 minute performance.
“I selected those pieces mainly because I know that Bengaluru audience is much more knowledgeable and have a fair idea of the concept of opera,” said Ashwati, who has performed in almost all major cities of the country.
Ashwati's grandmother told City Express that music and dance runs in the family. Ashwati was naturally gravitated to Carnatic music and always knew that she wanted to be a stage performer. Attending a master class in Pune at the age of 17 made her take a final decision to be an opera singer.
Dressed in royal blue gown, she performed Sopranos in German, Italian, French and Czech. As she performed, almost as if talking to the public, she ensured she looked at the audience seated on the wings of the house.
“I know they did not have the best view, but when I looked at them while performing, they had shut their eyes and were just swaying to the music,” she says.
Since Sopranos are usually a dramatic compose, enacting the character she is playing is of course great fun. She plays from the heartbroken yet successful Guiditta to overjoyed Margurite, who fails to identify herself after wearing gifted jewels. “Maybe because I see different versions of myself in these characters. Else I would not be able to connect,” said Ashwati.
Even though she does not know German well, she finds it easier to sing Soprano in German than in English. “German vowels are better for singing,” Ashwati says. She has learnt French in high school and can make-do with Italian, but with other languages she learns as she rolls.
However, the biggest challenge of singing Soprano is the simultaneous performance. “Opera uses your entire body as an instrument,” she says. “So it is often a challenge to sustain the notes while moving around.”
For the Bengaluru concert-opera she performed along with the pianist Natalia Kapyllova. By the end of the performance, apart from feeling exhilarated she said she feels fiercely hungry. “First I feel exhilarated, then hungry and finally as the high comes down I realise I am exhausted,” she laughed.
Retired diplomat, Pascal Allan Nazareth,who is also an ardent opera enthusiast attended Ashwati’s performance and said he found the musical span of her voice highly remarkable and was impressed by the complete ease with which she raises her high notes while retaining its silky quality. “Consciously or unconsciously she “acts” each song or aria with facial expression and hand gestures, almost as if she is at a full dress rehearsal,” he said.