Shalimar the Clown
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Opera Theatre of Saint Louis performs world premiere recording of Shalimar the Clown.

Rajiv Joseph's spare libretto, based on the book by Salman Rushdie, is full of gifts for an opera composer: love triangle with dancer, acrobat, and ambassador; vaudevillian rehearsal; over-the-top wedding; lonely hotel seduction; and Anarkali's dance -- a grand Khatak show-within-a-show. Rushdie's novel, not at all spare, is part Hindu/Muslim Romeo and Juliet, part Himalayan Paradise Lost -- a meditation on the personal as political, and an allegory of the danger of innocence. The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis commissioned composer Jack Perla to write Shalimar the Clown and this world premiere recording was made in 2016. Perla has steadily forged a reputation for his unique cross-fertilization of jazz, improvisation, and classical music. Librettist Rajiv Joseph is a New York-based playwright who has been called "daring, magnificent, and virtuosic." The recipient of numerous awards, Shalimar the Clown is Mr. Joseph's first opera libretto.
Jack Perla, composer
Shalimar the Clown
Sean Panikkar, tenor; Andriana Chuchman, soprano; Gregory Dahl, bass; Katharine Goeldner, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Hammons, baritone; Jenni Bank, soprano; Geoffrey Agpalo, tenor; Justin Austin, tenor; Aubrey Allicock, baritone; Arjun Verma, sitar; Javad Butah, tabla; members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Jayce Ogren, conductor

"Jack Perla's Shalimar the Clown is an operatic treatment of Salman Rushdie's novel of the same name. Rushdie participated in the transition of the book to operatic form, and the result was premiered in Saint Louis in June 2016. This recording was made during that premiere run. The opera received praise from many quaters, and I looked forward very much to hearing this recording. It did not disappoint. The work is extremely powerful and the performance is splendid. Of the new operas I have encountered in the past 10 years or so, this one is at or near the top of the list…" (Fanfare)

"…Shalimar is a kind of Hindu-Muslim Romeo and Juliet.…Perla mixes Indian rhythms and instrumentation with lush but lean western harmonies and soaring romantic melodies to create the opera's restless sonic ambience.…Perla is unfailing in his sense of beauty and balance, always trusting music (and not gratuitous dissonance) to convey the emotions.…The cast is strong, led by Sean Pannikar in a title role that requires range, lyric beauty, and heroic declamation.…Saint Louis Opera Theatre perform this new work with assurance and nuance under the direction of Jayce Ogren…" (American Record Guide)
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