- APRIL 2013

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

PHOOLAN DEVI: The Bandit Queen, composed by Shirish Korde and 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 & Donia Salem, choreographer/dancers; and Raphaele Shirley, videographer.

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Read Lavina Melwani's article on

About the opera PHOOLAN DEVI: The Bandit Queen, composer Shirish Korde states: "The themes in her life: violence, retribution, transformation, myth, class were all fascinating... in fact, ideal dramatic material for an opera...Phoolan Devi's story raises difficult and universal questions about violence and women. I felt that no single vocal style could accurately represent her complex character...The music draws from many cultures and embraces opera, classical music, jazz, hip hop, folk music from Rajasthan and Vedic chants. The spoken word includes poems by Pablo Neruda, the Iraqi poet Rabia and Pakistani poet Faiz."

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VIDEO PREVIEW featuring Nandini Sikand
and Donia Salem, choreographer/dancers

phoolan devi youtube

Using the imagery of Hindu goddesses, Durga, Kali and Bhairavi, this duet embodies the transformation of Phoolan Devi from a young village girl to fierce warrior -- a reflection of divine blessings from the Devi.

Attend a concert with opera excerpts at Queens College, May 10 at 10 am, LeFrak Concert Hall:

Join Shirish Korde, Da Capo Chamber Players, soprano Zorana Sadiq, cellist Jan Müller-Szeraws, percussionist Jonathan Hess, Carnatic soprano Deepti Navratna and tabla player Amit Kavthekar for a performance of excerpts from the opera. The concert is presented as part of the Queens College Year of India Celebration.


Find details here

Scene from Phoolan Devi the Bandit Queen Opera by Shirish Korde
Above: Production Photo from 2010 performance at the Tsai Performance Center, Boston-Directed by Lynn Kremer.