Interview with DOUGLAS J. CUOMO, COMPOSER - Arjuna's Dilemma
Arjuna’s Dilemma is a 70 minute contemporary chamber opera by the American composer Douglas J. Cuomo, with text in Sanskrit, Hindi and English, based on the ancient Indian epic, the Bhagavad Gita, and the poetry of Kabir. Produced by One World Theatre, an English language theatre in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Asian Premiere is took place in the Bhitri Chowk of the Patan Durbar Royal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in September, 2016. The music is a fusion of Western Classical Music, Improvisational Jazz and Hindustani Classical Music.
ABOUT THE STORY
Arjuna’s Dilemma tells the story of Arjuna, Prince of the Pandavas, who on the eve of a horrific civil war must choose between his duty to family and kingdom, and his troubled conscience over going to war with kinsmen. Like the Nepalese people who suffered through a brutal civil war and the 2015 Twin Earthquakes, Arjuna can all too vividly imagine the coming destruction and wants to “Stop my chariot!”-- a powerful refrain in the opera. His charioteer Krishna, one of the many manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu, offers an alternative vision--the world in its entire splendor and horror, and the divine spirit that is eternal.
FROM DOUGLAS J. CUOMO, COMPOSER
I am thrilled, grateful and humbled that One World Theatre is producing Arjuna’s Dilemma in Kathmandu. Spiritually and musically this is a special piece for me, and to see it performed in Nepal, one of the most holy and sacred countries in the world, is a very special blessing.
Beauty and art can reference the unknowable; what is seen and felt but often beyond words. The Bhagavad Gita holds many moments in which one experiences this ineffable sense of the world, and of an individual's place in things. My desire in writing Arjuna's Dilemma has been to try to convey some sense of that wonder, fear, vastness, hope and aspiration to the divine that is in each of us.
It is with great love that I offer my music, and my small role in this wonderful One World Theatre production, as a gift to the people of Nepal.
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