September 15, 2015
A Legendary Saga of India and
a West Coast Premiere
Savitri  and River of Light
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center November 14-15 

   This fall, Festival Opera journeys to the richly-nuanced culture of India for a presentation of two noteworthy chamber operas: one classical - Gustav Holst's Savitri - and one contemporary: Jack Perla and Chitra Divakaruni's River of Light.
   Gustav Holst is widely recognized as the composer of The Planets, however most are not aware of his fascination with the land and culture of India. Savitri is a chamber opera in one act, Holst's Opus 25, with the libretto by Holst himself. Read the story
   Bay Area composer and pianist Jack Perla is active in opera, jazz, chamber and symphonic music. River of Light, written with librettist and New York Times bestselling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, received its premiere with Houston Grand Opera in March 2014.
   The story of River of Light: Having moved from India, Meera loves her new husband, her high-powered job, and the Houston lifestyle - until the birth of her daughter makes her long to recreate authentic Diwali traditions at home. The tale unfolds in about 30 minutes with a score that draws extensively on North Indian ragas and an orchestra that mixes Western instruments with sitar and the tabla.
   Coloratura soprano Maya Kherani will sing the principal roles in each opera - Savitri and Meera.
The cast of Savitri also features tenor Jorge Garza as Satyavan and bass-baritone Philip Skinner as Death. Baritone Danil Cilli sings the role of Meera's husband Burton, in River of Light, and Molly Mahoney and Michael Boley sing the roles of their neighbors.
  John Kendall Bailey conducts, and Tanya Kane-Parry directs. Antonia Minnecola is choreographer of the classical Indian dance elements. 
   Savitri also includes a wordless female chorus, directed by Bailey. More production information at FestivalOpera. Tickets go on sale September 28. Click here for TICKET INFO.
Contact Us

Festival Opera

1630 North Main Street, #61 

Walnut Creek, California 94596   



Sara Nealy - General Director

Dick Brundage, CBC - Marketing Director  



Board of Directors    

Susie Hanson, Chair

Peter Johnson, Vice Chair 

David Baer, Secretary      

Nina Bancroft Dickerson 

Jennifer Kwock-Lau     

Diane Heald               



November 14  
2:00 pm Saturday 
Oakland Asian Cultural Center  
Holsts's Savitri
Perla & Divakaruni's
River of Light

November 14  
8:00 pm Saturday 
Oakland Asian Cultural Center  
Holsts's Savitri
Perla & Divakaruni's
River of Light
November 15 
4:00 pm Sunday 
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Holsts's Savitri
Perla & Divakaruni's
River of Light

December 10
6:30 pm 
Round Hill Country Club, Alamo
Festival Opera Holiday Gala
Todos Santos Plaza, Concord, CA
Opera in the Park

Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio 

Chamber opera workshop:
From The Land Fallen
by Wang Jie
storyThe Story of Savitri
    The story of Gustav Holst's Savitri  is based on the episode of Savitri and Satyavan from the Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India: Savitri, wife of the woodman Satyavan, hears the voice of Death calling to her. He has come to claim her husband. Satyavan arrives to find his wife in distress, but assures Savitri that her fears are but a "Maya" (illusion): "All is unreal, all is Maya."
   Even so, at the arrival of Death, all strength leaves him and he falls to the ground. Savitri, now alone and desolate, welcomes Death. Death, moved to compassion by her greeting, offers her a gift of anything but the return of Satyavan. S
avitri asks for life in all its fullness.
   After Death grants her request, she informs him that a full life is impossible without her Satyavan. Death, defeated, leaves her, and Satyavan awakens.