NOTES                 Tickets are going fast! 


October 27, 2015
 Spotlight on River of Light
Composer Jack Perla and Librettist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Jack Perla
   River of Light was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera as the last installment in their HGOco's "East + West" series, and it premiered in 2014. The chamber opera examines the intricacies of a contemporary, cross-cultural family facing the preservation of family legacy.
   The librettist is Indian American writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a New York Times bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher. Her award-winning books' themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world.
   She writes:
"In River of Light, I have tried to illuminate the complexity of the immigrant's relationship to the culture she has left behind as well as her desire to become part of her chosen country, America, and of the conflicts that ensure when we love people who may not understand us."  
   Bay Area composer, Jack Perla is currently working on a commission from Opera Theater of St. Louis for a full-length opera based on Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown. His one-act opera An American Dream received its world premiere with Seattle Opera in August 2015. Jonah and the Whale, commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera, received its premiere in March 2014, and will reprise at LA Opera in 2017. Local audiences may remember his opera Love/Hate, which was presented by the San Francisco Opera Center in 2012.
   He writes: "I'm pleased to announce River of Light will receive its west coast premiere with Festival Opera... Traditional Indian instruments (sitar & tabla) and dancers augment the cast and orchestra for the production. Choreography is by Antonia Minnecola, a rare American artist recognized as a leading exponent of North Indian Kathak dance."

Jack Perla with Arjun Verma on sitar   
Buy tickets NOW to Festival Opera's presentation of two noteworthy chamber operas: Gustav Holst's Savitri and Jack Perla and Chitra Divakaruni's River of Light. More production information at Festival Opera.
Click here for

Savitri & Satyavan: Power of Love
The Story Behind the Opera
   Paired with River of Light is Gustav Holst's Savitri , which is based on the episode of Savitri and Satyavan
from the Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India. The opera focuses on a part of the story.  

Here is a synopsis of the whole tale

    The childless king of Madra, Asvapati, lives ascetically for many years and offers oblations to Sun God Savitr. His consort is Malavi. He wishes to have a son for his lineage. Finally, pleased by the prayers, God Savitr appears to him and grants him a boon: he will soon have a daughter. The king is joyful at the prospect of a child. She is born and named Savitri in honor of the god. Savitri is born out of devotion and asceticism, traits she will herself practice.
   Savitri is so beautiful and pure, she intimidates all the men in the vicinity. When she reaches the age of marriage, no man asks for her hand, so her father tells her to find a husband on her own. She sets out on a pilgrimage for this purpose and finds Satyavan, the son of a blind king named Dyumatsena, who, after he lost everything including his sight, lives in exile as a forest-dweller.
   Savitri returns to find her father speaking with Sage Narada who announces that Savitri has made a bad choice: although perfect in every way, Satyavan is destined to die one year from that day. In response to her father's pleas to choose a more suitable husband, Savitri insists that she will choose her husband but once. After Narada announces his agreement with Savitri, Ashwapati acquiesces.
                              (continued on right)... 
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               

Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Crossroads for Cultural Dialogue
The Edward W. Chin Auditorium at the OACC
   Festival Opera is pleased to announce a new community partner, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, located in Oakland's Chinatown. The OACC is focused on building vibrant communities through Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) arts and culture programs that promote cross-cultural understanding for present and future generations. 
   This vision dovetails with Festival Opera's vision for our chamber opera series, which is to create a bridge to opera for diverse members of our community by telling stories that are culturally relevant -- and also have universal appeal.
   The Oakland Asian Cultural Center is located at 388 Ninth Street between Franklin and Webster Street on the second floor of the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland's Chinatown. Parking is conveniently located underground in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza.
Directions from BART
The closest BART station is 12th Street Station at Broadway in Oakland.
Walk south on Broadway to 11th Street and turn left. Continue on 11th Street, and turn right on Franklin to enter the Pacific Renaissance Plaza.
From the Lake Merritt BART Station: exit at the 9th Street exit, and walk west on 9th Street for 5 blocks to the Pacific Renaissance Plaza.

Calendar                TICKETS

November 2015
November 14  
2:00 pm Saturday 
Oakland Asian Cultural Center  
Holst's Savitri
Perla & Divakaruni's
River of Light

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

December 2015
December 10 
6:30 pm 
Round Hill Country Club, Alamo
Holiday Gala
Summer 2016
Todos Santos Plaza, Concord, CA
Opera in the Park

Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio 
Fall 2016  

Workshop: Wang Jie's
From The Land Fallen 
(Savitri & Satyavan: Power of Love story continued....)

   Savitri and Satyavan are married, and she goes to live in the forest. Immediately after the marriage, Savitri wears the clothing of a hermit and lives in perfect obedience and respect to her new parents-in-law and husband.
   Three days before the foreseen death of Satyavan, Savitri takes a vow of fasting and vigil. Her father-in-law tells her she has taken on too harsh a regimen, but Savitri replies that she has taken an oath to perform these austerities, to which Dyumatsena offers his support.
   The morning of Satyavan's predicted death, Savitri asks for her father-in-law's permission to accompany her husband into the forest. Since she has never asked for anything during the entire year she has spent at the hermitage, Dyumatsena grants her wish.
   They go and while Satyavan is splitting wood, he suddenly becomes weak and lays his head in Savitri's lap. Yama himself, the god of Death, comes to claim the soul of Satyavan. Savitri follows Yama as he carries the soul away. When he tries to convince her to turn back, she offers successive formulas of wisdom.
   First she praises obedience to Dharma, then friendship with the strict, then Yama himself for his just rule, then Yama as King of Dharma, and finally noble conduct with no expectation of return.
   Impressed at each speech, Yama praises both the content and style of her words and offers any boon, except the life of Satyavan. She first asks for eyesight and restoration of the kingdom for her father-in-law, then a hundred sons for her father, and then a hundred sons for herself and Satyavan.
   The last wish creates a dilemma for Yama, as it would indirectly grant the life of Satyavan. However, impressed by Savitri's dedication and purity, he offers one more time for her to choose any boon, but this time omitting "except for the life of Satyavan." Savitri instantly asks for Satyavan to return to life. Yama grants life to Satyavan and blesses Savitri's life with eternal happiness.
   Satyavan awakens as though he has been in a deep sleep and returns to his parents along with his wife. Meanwhile, at their home, Dyumatsena regains his eyesight before Savitri and Satyavan return.
   Since Satyavan still does not know what happened, Savitri relays the story to her parents-in-law, husband, and the gathered ascetics.
   As they praise her, Dyumatsena's ministers arrive with news of the death of his usurper. Joyfully, the king and his entourage return to his kingdom.