Opera Jawa & Austwia

After hearing about this upon its release 6 years ago, I finally saw it by chance on CUNY TV last night:

Opera Jawa was commissioned of Garin Nugroho, prolific and award-winning Indonesian director, by  Peter SellarsNew Crowned Hope Festival to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart‘s birth, so I gotta wonder what he would’ve made of it.

It’s an adaptation of an episode from The Ramayana to modern Indonesia, but it still retains a very mysterious, ritualistic vibe…  I’m sure I didn’t get out of it what someone who is more familiar with Indonesian music and drama would, and it did feel pretty long at just under 2 hours, but I was glad to see it finally.  I enjoyed the imaginative use of props, the clearly collaborative process, and the mix of classical Gamelan music, by Rahayu Supanggah, with folk music elements.

Opera Jawa will be shown again on CUNY TV‘s City Cinematheque tonight at 9pm, and next Saturday at midnight.

I think the furthest east Mozart ever got in an opera was Turkey, so no super-appropriate from-beyond-the-grave response to Nugroho, but here’s a choral interlude from the incidental music he wrote to the play Thamos, King of Egypt, in a 1980s Swiss TV performance:


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