The Manganiyar Seduction

The Civic – THE EDGE®, Auckland

10/03/2011 - 12/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Production Details



“A theatrical spectacle which easily projects the images of India into the mind … a musical feast” – The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 

“The effect is like that of a gospel Mass or a slow-building rave: a joyous, communal experience of the seductive power of music” – Irish Independent (UK) 

From the deserts of Northern India comes The Manganiyar Seduction, a dazzling concert of Rajasthani music presented in a visually seductive set inspired by an unexpected synthesis of Amsterdam’s red light district and the Hawa Mahal or ‘Palace of the Winds’ in Jaipur. Starting with a solo musician, instruments and voices build, culminating in a spectacular, joyous musical feast that has drawn sell-out audiences and standing ovations from Sydney to Dublin, London, Paris, Barcelona and New York. 

More than 40 musicians sit in red-curtained cubicles stacked in rows, one on top of the other. As the concert progresses, more cubicles are illuminated, creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of instruments and voices – an enchanting ‘magic box’ filled with virtuoso musicians. The all-male ensemble spans three generations of Manganiyars whose exuberant and joyful performances are a celebration of life itself. 

The Manganiyars are a caste of musicians who traditionally performed for the kings of Rajasthan. Living in the deserts of the Northern Indian province, their repertoire encompasses ballads of kings, Sufi songs written by mystics and traditional songs that celebrate birth, marriage, rains and feasts. In this unique show, they weave together this deeply rooted, complex history in a rousing array of choreography, song and rhythm, under the theatrical direction of Roysten Abel. 

“Colour, intensity and distinctive originality” – Sydney Morning Herald  

The Civic
10 – 12 March, 7.30pm
Festival page    

http://www.roystenabel.com/manganiyar.html 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvKsrqCwyGQ  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP4cRzRsmac&feature=related  




1hr 20min, no interval

Book now to catch their magic

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 11th Mar 2011

We were seduced, no doubt about it. Aptly named, The Manganiyar Seduction is a beautiful and stirring cultural experience that brings joy to its audience through its rhythm and vocal gymnastics. 

The impressive stand-alone set-piece (designed by Roysten Abel, executed by Imaret Sharma and constructed by Design Habit) is an ingenious masterpiece, consisting of 36 festoon-lit red-velvet boxes, which house 36 musicians, creating a 4-story high ‘wall of symphony’.

Like kids in December, eager to see what treat would appear next in the Advent calendar, a capacity crowd basks in the magic that is slowly revealed from behind closed curtains in this perfectly constructed, interval free enriching experience. 

I loved the purity and simplicity of the evening. The concert and the venue are a perfect match and, thankfully, there are none of the usual theatrical trappings, such as pre show music, or haze machines pumping fake atmosphere into the stalls.  

When the houselights fade, it is a refreshing pleasure to sit in silent darkness for a while. There is no need to rush into something when it is worth the wait. The evening has an ideal structure and flow that segues from solo musicians, to choral passages, to bombastic rhythms, to the inevitable full force of 37 musicians who sing and play with passion, commitment and joyful uplift.

What director/creator/arranger Roysten Abel has assembled for his Manganiyar Seduction is quite different from the collective force and feel of the western equivalent (an orchestral / choral work).

The singers communicate with facial expression and hand gestures, not just their incredible vocal engine. The vocal texture and tone is again quite different from what western ears are accustomed to. While there is familiarity in the vibrato and forward nasal tone, the brilliant coloratura and arpeggio-like passages, are incomparable.

Similarly, the string and wind instrument players bend and flex the pitch, in a very different way from the western construct, based on the octave’s scale of tones and semi tones. The string instruments, in particular, provide an intriguing continuo, or musical ‘bed’ for other players to sing and play over. 

However, the driving rhythms of the percussion instruments convey the universal inspiration of the beat. The deep resonant drums on the top layer are particularly infectious. 

At the helm is charismatic conductor – and vital musician #37 – Deu Khan, who dances and weaves round the front of the musician’s wall. He not only keeps the players in dynamic synch – both with each other and the snappy lighting design (by Roysten Abel) – but also contributes, with castanet-like instruments in either hand.  

Deu Khan communicates to his players with enthusiasm and fun positive energy and it is easy to appreciate why they response with smiles and eager commitment, when he turns round to conduct us later in the concert.  As he beams and encourages, we willingly participate in a percussive ‘call and answer’ session. It is totally organic interplay and feels completely natural – the antithesis of what audience participation usual ends up as. We are surprisingly good too! 

Throughout the night, I am intrigued to see how the audience around me react: those in front listen intently, while by contrast my date just has to move, tap his feet and nod his head. Even the initially cynical guy to my left, unsure during the concert’s slow meditative start, dives into the experience when the percussion instruments kick in and is on his feet by the end, yelling for more. 

Roysten obliges by walking on stage, thanking us, sharing a bit about the history and inclusive religion of his Manganiyar Seduction, plus a few humorous experiences, then dedicating a hymn to Christchurch. The entire company sing with their hands, voice, hearts and soul. 

Roysten Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction is only in NZ till Saturday, before heading to New York, then to Europe for a summer tour. You’ve got just two nights to catch their magic. At the risk of sounding like a publicist rather than a reviewer – book now! 
___________________________________________________________________

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  

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Make a comment

Book now to catch their magic

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 11th Mar 2011

We were seduced, no doubt about it. Aptly named, The Manganiyar Seduction is a beautiful and stirring cultural experience that brings joy to its audience through its rhythm and vocal gymnastics. 

The impressive stand-alone set-piece (designed by Roysten Abel, executed by Imaret Sharma and constructed by Design Habit) is an ingenious masterpiece, consisting of 36 festoon-lit red-velvet boxes, which house 36 musicians, creating a 4-story high ‘wall of symphony’.

Like kids in December, eager to see what treat would appear next in the Advent calendar, a capacity crowd basks in the magic that is slowly revealed from behind closed curtains in this perfectly constructed, interval free enriching experience. 

I loved the purity and simplicity of the evening. The concert and the venue are a perfect match and, thankfully, there are none of the usual theatrical trappings, such as pre show music, or haze machines pumping fake atmosphere into the stalls.  

When the houselights fade, it is a refreshing pleasure to sit in silent darkness for a while. There is no need to rush into something when it is worth the wait. The evening has an ideal structure and flow that segues from solo musicians, to choral passages, to bombastic rhythms, to the inevitable full force of 37 musicians who sing and play with passion, commitment and joyful uplift.

What director/creator/arranger Roysten Abel has assembled for his Manganiyar Seduction is quite different from the collective force and feel of the western equivalent (an orchestral / choral work).

The singers communicate with facial expression and hand gestures, not just their incredible vocal engine. The vocal texture and tone is again quite different from what western ears are accustomed to. While there is familiarity in the vibrato and forward nasal tone, the brilliant coloratura and arpeggio-like passages, are incomparable.

Similarly, the string and wind instrument players bend and flex the pitch, in a very different way from the western construct, based on the octave’s scale of tones and semi tones. The string instruments, in particular, provide an intriguing continuo, or musical ‘bed’ for other players to sing and play over. 

However, the driving rhythms of the percussion instruments convey the universal inspiration of the beat. The deep resonant drums on the top layer are particularly infectious. 

At the helm is charismatic conductor – and vital musician #37 – Deu Khan, who dances and weaves round the front of the musician’s wall. He not only keeps the players in dynamic synch – both with each other and the snappy lighting design (by Roysten Abel) – but also contributes, with castanet-like instruments in either hand.  

Deu Khan communicates to his players with enthusiasm and fun positive energy and it is easy to appreciate why they response with smiles and eager commitment, when he turns round to conduct us later in the concert.  As he beams and encourages, we willingly participate in a percussive ‘call and answer’ session. It is totally organic interplay and feels completely natural – the antithesis of what audience participation usual ends up as. We are surprisingly good too! 

Throughout the night, I am intrigued to see how the audience around me react: those in front listen intently, while by contrast my date just has to move, tap his feet and nod his head. Even the initially cynical guy to my left, unsure during the concert’s slow meditative start, dives into the experience when the percussion instruments kick in and is on his feet by the end, yelling for more. 

Roysten obliges by walking on stage, thanking us, sharing a bit about the history and inclusive religion of his Manganiyar Seduction, plus a few humorous experiences, then dedicating a hymn to Christchurch. The entire company sing with their hands, voice, hearts and soul. 

Roysten Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction is only in NZ till Saturday, before heading to New York, then to Europe for a summer tour. You’ve got just two nights to catch their magic. At the risk of sounding like a publicist rather than a reviewer – book now! 
___________________________________________________________________

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  

Comments

Make a comment

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