Phoolan Devi The Bandit Queen A New Multi-Media Opera by Shirish Korde

Phoolan Devi - The Bandit Queen
A Chamber Opera by Shirish Korde

The production, co-sponsored by the Indo-American Arts Council and Da Capo Chamber Players, premieres in New York and Toronto in 2014. The work depicts real, re-imagined and often contradictory events in the life of Phoolan Devi, a woman revered by some and reviled by others in contemporary Indian society.

A series of musically compelling and visually stunning scenes, the opera features: Zorana Sadiq, soprano; the Da Capo Chamber Players; Anusree Roy, librettist; Tom Diamond, director; Nandini Sikand, choreographer/dancer; and Raphaele Shirley, videographer.

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Phoolan Devi was born into poverty, illiterate, sold as a child bride, raped, abused, victimized, abducted by bandits, imprisoned, elected to India's Parliament and gunned down on a street in New Delhi in 2001. She was 37 at the time of her death. While her story may be viewed as a tragedy, it is, in fact, a tale of courage in the face of adversity. The opera examines caste, gender and violence against women, issues of particular relevance in light of recent events in India.


Watch a Trailer of Phoolan Devi on Youtube

Footage from performances at The College of the Holy Cross on April 15-17 and the Tsai Center in Boston on April 23-24, 2010.


PHOOLAN DEVI - THE BANDIT QUEEN is the fifth collaboration between Shirish Korde and the Da Capo Chamber Players. The work first took shape as a set of songs commissioned from the composer by the ensemble. On the occasion of its premiere, Anne Midgette writing for The New York Times, noted that the songs were

 "...the showpiece of the evening...a colorful, attractive piece, set on a lush bed of entertaining stylistic fusion... with the kind of vivid exciting performance that draws western composers to non-western music..." 

Critiquing the next set of performances by the Boston Musica Viva as the work evolved, Matthew Guerrieri writing for the Boston Globe, proclaimed:

"Soaring operatic vocal lines against dense, glinting harmonic masses... the evening's most satisfying performance."

The New York and Toronto premieres of the new production take place in 2014.



February 2 -  Music of Now at Symphony Space 


May 2 -  College of the Holy Cross 


May 10 -  Queens College 



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Scene from Phoolan Devi the Bandit Queen Opera by Shirish Korde