Classical Arts Society Stages Inspiring Biographical Musical “Sri Thyagarajar”
By Nalini Sadagopan
Asa tira dura desamulanu
Prakasimpa jesina rasika siromani (dasarathi)
“Rama – O’ Jewel of the connoisseurs of music who, to the fulfillment of my desire,
You have made my fame shine even in distant lands?
HOUSTON: Thus said the 18th Century Carnatic Music Saint composer and visionary Sri Tyagaraja of Tiruvaiyyaru, Tamil Nadu over two hundred years ago in his composition (krithi) titled “Dasarathi”; The sway of Sri Tyagaraja continues to sweep through the world as ardent connoisseurs and performing artists of Carnatic music continue to present Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions in the multitude of Carnatic music concerts through India and, by the vast Indian diaspora throughout the world. The admiration and reverence for Tyagaraja remains undiminished. 2017 marks the 250th birth anniversary of Sri Tyagaraja. And the world of Indian classical music is celebrating this.
Houston joins the rest in this celebration through the events being organized by Houston’s own Classical Arts Society that is dedicating this whole year to honor and celebrate Sri Tyagaraja.
Following its presentation of the 40th annual Tyagaraja Aradhana in January this year, Classical Arts presented “Sri Thyagarajar” an excellent musical play by the Chennai based theater troupe led by the renowned Tamil drama and TV personality Sri TV Varadarajen at the Bayou theater, U of H , Clear Lake on Saturday , April 1,2017 to a full house.
The divinely inspired krithis of the saint presented in the play contextualized to specific incidents in the bard’s life it enabled the rasikas to enjoy the composition for not only its music, but also to connect deeply with the composers mood and emotions.
Such was the power of this stellar play “Tyagaraja” a full length Tamil drama staged by Sri. T.V. Varadarajen, TVV as he is known who is now embedded in many of us as Sri Tyagaraja himself. As TVV stated this is his troupe’s first play that deviated from their usual story line of social themes and must say it was perhaps a divine message that motivated this amazing portrayal. The cast including some 11 members from India and and 9 from local Houston drama groups were of top caliber. Special mention to the artists who played Tyagaraja’s wife, brother, sister-in-law and sishya characters; they transformed into their roles and hooked the audience with their dramatics. Houston has no dearth for talent and many of our theater legends and friends including Dr. Saranathan, Ganesh Ragu, Chandramouli, Srimathi, Sriram, Tupil Narasimhan, Kruthi Bhat and others played key and pivotal roles superbly. Houston theater legend Sri Anantha Iyer was among those who welcomed the troupe.
Music by Smt. Bombay Jayashri literally transported us to the ethereal world and created countless goosebump moments. All the singers and their embellished renderings of the krithis were soul touching. The portrayal of the saint’s pilgrimage through the krithis “O Ranga sayee”, “Theratheeyagaradha”, “Lalithe”, the utsavasampradaya krithis with “Aragimpave”, his final years through “Mokshamu Galadha” and so on, in all 40 specially chosen compositions. Music was not just the backbone of the play but its life just like that of the Saint.
Kudos to Sri TV Varadarajen and troupe pouring such immense energy, heart and soul into bringing “Sri Thyagarajar” to life and for staging it globally.
It is a matter of pride that Houston’s Classical Arts Society and its Board had the honor of sponsoring the diamond jubilee (75th) staging of the play here in Houston.
“Endharo Mahanubhavulu Andariki Vandanamulu”