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Beethoven meets Bollywood: Milwaukee's Skylight Music Theatre brings FIDELIO to life with world-class cast, brainwave-scanning technology and vibrant Indian film setting

September 24, 2013


Artistic Director Viswa Subbaraman's first Skylight production features collaboration with visionary modern artist Raghava KK MILWAUKEE, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Skylight Music Theatre's new Artistic Director Viswa Subbaraman has opened his first season at Skylight with an innovative, 21st century production of Ludwig van Beethoven's 19th century masterpiece, FIDELIO. A timeless story of love, the purity of purpose and, of course, mistaken identity, Fidelio is being staged like never before - as a classic Bollywood film on an interactive set designed by acclaimed Indian artist Raghava KK. FIDELIO opened Sept. 20 to rave reviews and will be performed through Oct. 6 in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI).


Subbaraman, the production's stage and music director, combines the dramatic score of Beethoven's only opera with a moving chorus of colorfully dressed Indian dancers on a set highlighting Raghava KK's new vision for art. The set, created especially for Skylight, uses technology that interacts with the actors and Subbaraman, making each performance a unique experience for the audience.

Kinect motion-sensor technology, best known for its use in video games, captures actors' movements and replicates them in a video field projected onto the stage. During the opera's finale, Subbaraman's brain waves - through the use of special EEG headgear he wears while conducting the orchestra - change the color wash projected onto a backdrop that was specifically designed for this purpose by KK.

"These technologies are at the heart of Raghava KK's work to create art that interacts and reacts to the viewer as the viewer reacts and interacts with the art. It's a perfect fit with this production of FIDELIO and our entire Skylight season, which is based on the theme of 'revolution,'" Subbaraman said. "We are so proud to bring this revolutionary production - blending performance and visual art with the storytelling of one of the greatest composers the world has ever known - to the Cabot stage."

KK likened his vision for the production to "Dr. Seuss meets Bollywood," with big, colorful sets and creative technology that draw the audience even further into the drama. FIDELIO is his first opera and this is also the first time his brainwave technology, created in conjunction with programmers at MIT, is being used onstage.

"I'm really excited to introduce this interactive technology to FIDELIO because I think it's a new form of storytelling that makes the work much more accessible to modern audiences," he said. "My vision is first to introduce a lot of color - like a pop-up book - where the story comes to life through the actors and the color. The visuals are layered, just like the music. It's accessible, it's disarming and it's extremely powerful. Whether you love opera or are just beginning to discover the art form, this is an exciting production. I'm delighted to be part of bringing it to life."

SOURCE Skylight Music Theatre

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