manu narayan

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Category: Opera

Jan 10 – 18th, NYC : THUMBPRINT: a world premiere Opera based on the story of Mukhtar Mai.

I am excited to make my opera debut in the world premiere of THUMBPRINT. A newly commissioned opera by Kamala Sankaram, composer and Susan Yankowitz, librettist, THUMBPRINT is based on interviews with Mukhtar Mai, a gang rape victim who was the first Pakistani woman to bring her attackers to justice in 2002. The score is heavily influenced by Hindustani and Western Classical music and the Libretto is in English. THUMBPRINT is part of the PROTOTYPE: OPERA/ THEATRE/ NOW Festival.


Featuring Kamala Sankaram, Soprano; Manu Narayan, Lyric Baritone; Steve Gokool, Bass; Theodora Hanslowe, Mezzo; Leela Subramanium, Soprano; and Kannan Vasudevan, Tenor.

Musical Direction by Steve Osgood ; Directed by Rachel Dickstein

at the Baruch Performing  Arts Center, Nagelberg Theater, 55 Lexington Avenue (between 24th and 25th), New York, NY 10010.

90 Minutes.  Tickets $25 ($16.30 & $15 through PROTO pack).

January 10 & 12 /  14 through 18 at 7:00 pm  and  January 11 at 4:00 pm  **

**A panel on International Human Rights with esteemed panelists will follow the January 11 (4PM) show.  Moderated by Peter McCabe, the discussion will feature Maitreyi Das, Lead Social Sector Specialist, World Bank; Mohammed Naqvi, director of SHAME, a special Emmy winning documentary about Mukhtar Mai; Shantha Rau Barriga, Director of Disability Rights, Human Rights Watch; Kamala Sankaram, Composer & SusanYankowitz, Librettist; and Ms. Mukhtar Bibi will join the conversation via Skype.


Kamala Sankaram as Mukhtar Mai in the world premiere of THUMBPRINT at the 2014 Prototype Festival in the Nagelberg Theater, Baruch College Performing Arts Center.

THUMBPRINT poetically explores the deep family ties and tribal traditions that shape Mukhtar’s story. Through acts of courage that astonish even her, Mukhtar is transformed, and so is the world that watches.

Composer Kamala Sankaram (Soprano) sings the lead role, bringing to life Mukhtar Mai’s courage, fortitude, and independence of thought.  I portray the role of Faiz Muhammed (Lyric Baritone), the antagonist who as a leader in the Village is ultimately charged with ordering the Honor “Crime” against Mukhtar. Steve Gokool, Bass  and Theodora Hanslowe, Mezzo portray Mukhtar’s Father and Mother, Leela Subramaniam, Soprano -Mukhtar’s sister Annu, and Kannan Vasudevan, Tenor – Mukhtar’s Brother Shakur.  Each cast member portrays multiple roles in the telling of the story.

Thumbprint started as a song-cycle commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects for the 2009 21c Liederabend at Galapagos Art Space, was further developed for the 2011 iteration at The Kitchen, and will now receive its final development and world-premiere in this co-production by BMP and HERE.

PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now is Beth Morrison Projects and HERE’s “wildly promising new opera and music-theatre festival” (The New York Times), showcasing the boom of new work by pioneering artists from New York and around the world. Launched in January 2013, the Festival produces, presents, and commissions fully realized chamber-sized piecesOn the inaugural launch, NPR noted “The rise of small-scale, more experimental presentations of opera is hugely exciting” and New Yorkmagazine concluded that PROTOTYPE “should quickly evolve into a New York institution,” adding, “The contemporary mini music drama has found its impresarios in Kristin ­Marting, Beth Morrison, and Kim Whitener.”

The inaugural Festival featured the world premiere co-commission of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song, the New York premiere of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, the U.S. premiere of 33 1/3 Collective’sBluebeard, and LA’s dark glam opera band, Timur and the Dime Museum. The 2014 Festival calendar, credits, personnel, synopses, libretti, images, videos, biographies, and more can be found at


A B O U T   T H E   C R E A T I V E   T E A M

As a performer, Kamala Sankaram has collaborated with and premiered pieces by the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, eighth blackbird, Phil Kline, David T. Little, Corey Dargel, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tristan Perich, Fred Ho, the Dogs of Desire, and Anti-Social Music, among others.  She has recorded with Anthony Braxton (TRILLIUM E: Braxton House), Phil Kline (Around the World in a Daze: Starkland Records), End (The Sick Generation: Hymen Records), Death Comet Crew (Dominatrix), the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Anti-Social Music.

As a composer, Kamala Sankaram’s music has been praised as “strikingly original” (Allan Kozinn, NY Times), and performed as part of American Opera Projects “Opera Grows in Brooklyn” series, at HERE Arts Center, the Stone, the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, the Santa Fe New Music Festival, and the Lucerne Festival, among others. She had the featured commission on the 2009 21C Liederabend, selected as one of Time Out’s 10 Best Classical Concerts. Her music for SOUNDING (directed by Kristin Marting) was praised as “gorgeous pop-rock interludes” (Time Out NY). She was the 2011 Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis Composer-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy and the 2012 Composer-in-Residence at the Eugene O’Neil Theater. She has received grants from the MAP Fund,  the Foundation for Contemporary Art, Meet the Composer, and the Asian Women’s Giving Circl e, as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Hermitage. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created MIRANDA, a steampunk murder mystery opera called “enjoyable, utterly original opera” (NY Post) and “among the very best theater achievements of 2012” (

Susan Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist, lyricist and librettist. Among her plays are THE REVENGE, PHAEDRA IN DELIRIUM (winner of the QRL poetic play competition); UNDER THE SKIN; TERMINAL and 1969 TERMINAL 1996, both pieces collaborations with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre (Drama Desk Playwright’s Award); A KNIFE IN THE HEART (O’Neill Conference winner; West Coast Premiere October 2002 at Sledgehammer Theatre); and NIGHT SKY, presented throughout the United States and internationally. Her plays have been translated into French, Japanese, Catalan, Dutch and German; they have been widely published and anthologized. She is also the librettist/lyricist of SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT, a gospel-and-blues opera with music by Taj Mahal; CHERI, an opera/music theatre work with Michael Dellaira; and bookwriter/lyricist of TRUE ROMANCES, a musical fantasia with Elmer Bernstein.

In addition to her work for the stage, she has written a novel, SILENT WITNESS, published by Knopf, as well as several films and television plays. Her teleplay, THE PRISON GAME, was aired on PBS, as was SYLVIA PLATH: ARROW TO THE SUN, which won her a WGA nomination for the best-written documentary of the season.

Her work has been honored by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, NEA, NYFA, TCG, Berilla Kerr, McKnight and Rockefeller Foundations. She is a frequent fellow at Yaddo and MacDowell, and is a member of New Dramatists, PEN, the Dramatists Guild, and WGA.


T H E   P R O D U C E R S

Creative producer Beth Morrison Projects identifies and supports the work of emerging and established composers and their collaborators through the commission, development, and production of their work, taking the form of opera-theatre, music-theatre, and multi-media concert works. Relying on the core values of collaboration, exploration, experimentation, artistry, and excellence, BMP provides a nurturing structure that allows artists to push the boundaries of their art form. Founded in 2006, BMP rapidly developed a reputation for “envisioning new possibilities and finding ways to facilitate their realization” (New York Times). In 6 years, BMP has commissioned, developed, and produced more than thirty operas and music-theatre pieces that have premiered or been performed in New York, across the country, and around the globe. The Wall Stre et Journal said, “Ms. Morrison may be immortalized one day as a 21st-century Diaghilev, known for her ability to assemble memorable collaborations among artists.” BMP is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, Meet the Composer, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the ART NY/ JP Morgan Chase Fund for Small Theaters, The Map Fund, a program of creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Since 1993, HERE has been one of New York’s premier arts organizations and a leader in producing and presenting new, hybrid performance work. Over 20 years, HERE has come to occupy a unique and essential place in the landscape of downtown live arts, and to be known as a home both for risk-taking artists in all disciplines, and for their adventurous audiences. HERE has served thousands of emerging to mid-career artists developing bold new hybrid performances, which are cross-disciplinary works that challenge existing boundaries among media and forms of expression. In the face of cookie-cutter art making, HERE has created a commissioning, development and production model that addresses many of the challenges faced by artists working in these hybrid forms. HERE makes it possible for artists to work at varied levels or scales, depending on what they individually need for their project, and to do it within a community of fellow artists who provide peer support and inspiration through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). One major focus is on hybrid music- theatre/opera works, often involving multi-media and other genres such as dance and film. Recent examples are Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts (2007 & 2009), Christina Campanella & Stephanie Fleischmann’s Red Fly/Blue Bottle (2009), Nick Brooke’s Border Towns (2010), Yoav Gal’s Mosheh (2011), Kamala Sankaram’s Miranda (2012), Joe Diebes’ Botch, and upcoming, Stephan Weisman & David Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis, Hai-Ting Chinn’sScience Fair, Bora Yoon’s Sunken Cathedral, and Rob Roth & Lady Rizo’s SoundstageHERE is located at 145 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013.

T H E   P R E S E N T I N G   P A R T N E R S

Baruch Performing Arts Center presents programming that reflects the various interests of the college for both the college community and general public. BPAC and the Weissman School of Arts & Sciences support programming on an individual basis such as: the Joel Segall Great Works Readings, the Aaron Silberman Concert Series, the Alexander String Quartet Residency, the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Series, and the Weissman Talks Onstage Dialogue Series via the Baruch Jewish Studies Center. BPAC programming is presented by professional musicians, theater and dance companies. BPAC is located at 55 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010.

T H E   C R E D I T S

PROTOTYPE is part of “January in NYC is the Place to Be for the Performing Arts,” celebrating the unmatched convergence of performing arts professionals, audiences, and events in New York City. Every January over 45,000 people from around the globe flock to New York City for public festivals and industry gatherings, featuring over 1,500 performances by thousands of world-class artists of all disciplines and genres, including world music, theatre, dance, classical, and jazz. These Festival presentations and additional conversations coincide with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) conferences, and the Opera America New Works Forum. More at

Leadership funding for PROTOTYPE has been provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with significant support from the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, The Charles and Cerise Jacobs Fund for New Opera, and The Reed Foundation.


My June: a new Opera, an Ibsen Play, 3 Concerts and an Important Celebration

I am very excited for the busy month ahead. I’ll be working on four varied projects with many diversely creative artists, and am glad to be back on the East coast after spending most of the year in California.

OPERA: June 3 – 9, 2013 @ The Watermill Center, Watermill, NY. I’ll be in New York rehearsing a new contemporary opera called Thumbprint created by composer Kamala Shankaram and playwright/librettist Susan Yanowitz, at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center on Long Island.

IBSEN: June 10 – 29, 2013 @ University of Scranton, PA. I join rehearsals a week late as Peer Gynt in a continuing workshop of the Ibsen play in Scranton, PA. The Peer Gynt Project, co-directed by Grace Zandarski and Felix Ivanov, is part of a new artistic summer residency that was dreamed up by Grace, and is sponsored by the University of Scranton as a collaboration amongst its students, faculty, and outside arts professionals. Last summer, we worked on the first three acts, and this year we are working the rest of the piece.

CONCERT 1: June 10, 2013 @ The Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC (9:30PM). I am excited to return back to NYC to sing a concert celebrating the music of a fantastic theatre composer Rona Siddiqui. Entitled Songs Rona Wrote, The Music of Rona Siddiqui, the evening features some of the most talented Broadway actor/singers.

CONCERTS 2 & 3: June 14, 2013 @ The Stone, NYC (8 & 10PM). I have two Klezmer/Bhangra concerts in NYC (The Stone is at Ave. C and 2nd Street, Manhattan), with Frank London, Deep Singh and the rest of the crew from the Washington Jewish Music Fest concert we did a few weeks ago in DC. The two sets are part of Frank London’s week long residency at The Stone, which is under the Artistic direction of John Zorn.

CELEBRATION: June 15, 2013 @ The Fairmont Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA. I am proud to be at my alma mater – Carnegie Mellon University – to celebrate the successful completion of the Inspire Innovation Campaign which, amongst many other things, has impacted CMU’s global visibilty by raising over $1 billion for the university endowment. For More Information on Carnegie Mellon University go to :

After the celebrations, I am back to Scranton for the last two weeks of the Peer Gynt Project.


 THUMBPRINT – (a new contemporary opera)  

June 3 – 9th @ The Watermill Center, 39 Watermill Town Road, Water Mill, New York.

(Public open rehearsal on June 9th, 6 – 7 PM)

I am excited to be doing my first contemporary opera – theatre work, THUMBPRINT by Indian-American composer Kamala Sankaram and playwright/librettist Susan Yankowitz,  from June 3rd – June 9th at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in Long Island.  Using a mix Indian Classical and European Opera styles, Thumbprint is a new piece inspired by the experiences of Mukhtar Mai, a young illiterate peasant who was gang-raped as retribution for an alleged ‘honor’ crime by her little brother and who became the first woman in Pakistan to bring her rapists to justice. When offered a settlement, she instead asked for a school where girls in her village could be educated so that they, unlike her, would never know the humiliation of having to sign their names with a thumbprint. Despite government opposition and repeated death threats, she has now become an international voice for human rights. Mukhtar’s remarkable story is at the heart of this boundary-leaping work. While in residence at Watermill Center this summer, Kamala and Susan will be revising and finalizing the libretto and score. At the same time they will be exploring the piece on its feet with director Rachel Dickstein and a small cast of singers/actors as a first opportunity to work on the intersection of words, music, movement and character. The cast includes Eric Brenner, Miriam Khalil, my friends Rajika Puri and Kannan Vasudevan, whom I grew up with in Pittsburgh.

Kamala Sankaram’s music has been praised as “strikingly original” (Allan Kozinn, The New York Times), and performed as part of American Opera Projects Opera Grows in Brooklyn series, at HERE Arts Center, the Stone, the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, the Santa Fe New Music Festival, and the Lucerne Festival, among others. She had the featured commission on the 2009 21C Liederabend, selected as one of Time Out’s 10 Best Classical Concerts. Her music for Sounding (directed by Kristin Marting) was praised as “gorgeous pop-rock interludes” (Time Out New York). She was the 2011 Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis Composer-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy and the 2012 Composer-in-Residence at the Eugene O’Neil Theater. She has received grants from the MAP Fund, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, as well as residencies from the MacDowell Colony and the Hermitage. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created Miranda, a steampunk murder mystery opera called “enjoyable, utterly original opera” and “among the very best theater achievements of 2012”.

Susan Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist, librettist and occasional screenwriter. Among her best-known plays are Night Sky (produced off-B’way and internationally); Phaedra In Delirium (produced at CSC and WPP, NY; winner, QRL poetic play competition); Terminal and 1969Terminal1996, collaborations with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre (Drama Desk Award); and A Knife in the Heart (Sledgehammer Theatre). Boxes A-Z just won the 2012 award for Best Ensemble Play in Ankara, and her long monologue about Mukhtar Mai is in continual production in the U.S. and internationally, on its own and as part of Seven, most recently in India and Afghanistan. Silent Witness, her novel, was published by Knopf and her teleplay about Sylvia Plath aired on PBS and won her a WGA nomination for best-written documentary of the season. She has collaborated on opera-theater works with Elmer Bernstein, Taj Mahal, Moshe Cotel, and Michael Dellaira, and has been awarded grants from the NEA, NYFA, TCG, and Guggenheim, McKnight, Bogliasco and Rockefeller Foundations, among others. She is a frequent resident at Yaddo and MacDowell. Her work is archived and catalogued at Kent State Library.



Monday, June 10th @ The Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd St.,  New York, NY


Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at

Join composer Rona Siddiqui and her amazing lyricist friends, Zayre Ferrer, Sander Gusinov, Laura Kleinbaum, Rebekah Melocik, Zoe Samuel, Chris Staskel, Liz Suggs, and Max Vernon, for a night of new theatre music spanning from comic metal love songs to aquatic predator funk jams and everything in between.

The Featured Performers: Manu Narayan (Bombay Dreams), Erin Dilly (A Christmas Story), Sarah Stiles (Avenue Q), Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening), Mykal Kilgore (Hair), MJ Rodriguez (Rent), Margo Seibert, Liam Forde, Ayesu Lartey, Matt Bauman, Andrew Leggieri, and Ben Langhorst.

Directed by: Andrew Willis-Woodward

Band: Rona Siddiqui (Piano), Jon Russ (Guitar), Ayesu Lartey (Bass), Hiroyuki Matsuura (Drums), Susan Mandel (Cello)

Rona Siddiqui is a composer and music director based in New York City. She is the 2011 recipient of the ASCAP Foundation/Max Dreyfus Scholarship and the 2010 recipient of the award for Best Musical Direction by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle in San Francisco. Rona wrote the music for the original musical One Good Day which has had readings at NYU, Custom Made Theatre Company in San Francisco, and in the Sacramento New Works Festival. She also composed the music for an original 20-minute musical, The Tin, which was selected to be part of the 2012 Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. She vocal arranged and music directed Tree of Life, the Oneida Nation float song in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Original scores she has written include The Vagina Monologues, The Good Person of Szechuan, The Clean House, and Love Song of J Robert Oppenheimer. She received international recognition for her composition “Storms and Whispers” from the International Association of Women in Music. She was recently a featured songwriter in The Bill Finn Cabaret: A Night of Comedy Songs, Songs By Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know But Should at Barrington Stage, and the concert series Broadway’s Future at Lincoln Center. She received her B.A. in music composition from UCLA and her Masters from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Rona is currently Music Director for the Off-Broadway production of Piggy Nation.


The Frank London Klezmer Brass Allstars & Bhangra Brass Party feat. Deep Singh, Sarah Gordon & Manu Narayan

Friday, June 14th @ THE STONE (corner of Avenue C and 2nd street, NYC)

8 & 10 PM

 $15 per set *there are no advance ticket sales, all admissions are at the door prior to each performance

8 pm
Bhangra Brass Party: featuring Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars & guests—Yiddish Cabaret feat. Eleanor Reissa + Bhangra Brass Party feat. Deep Singh, Sarah Gordon & Manu Narayan
Frank London (trumpet, alto horn, piccolo trumpet, leader) Susan Sandler (trumpet, vocals) Mark Hamilton (trombone) David Harris (trombone, baritone horn) Curtis Hasselbring (trombone) Merlin Sheperd (clarinet)

Matt Dariau (clarinet, alto saxaphone, guida) Mark Rubin (contrabass helicon) Aaron Alexander (drums) Matt Moran (bass drum) Deep Singh (percussion) Sarah Gordon (voice) Eleanor Reissa (voice) Manu Narayan (voice) And many more!

10 pm
Bhangra Brass Party: featuring Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars & guests—Songs of Zebulon feat. Jeremiah Lockwood & Shoko Nagai + Bhangra Brass Party feat. Deep Singh, Sarah Gordon & Manu Narayan
Frank London (trumpet, alto horn, piccolo trumpet, leader) Susan Sandler (trumpet, vocals) Mark Hamilton (trombone) David Harris (trombone, baritone horn) Curtis Hasselbring (trombone) Merlin Sheperd (clarinet)

Matt Dariau (clarinet, alto saxaphone, guida) Mark Rubin (contrabass helicon) Aaron Alexander (drums) Matt Moran (bass drum) Deep Singh (percussion) Sarah Gordon (voice) Eleanor Reissa (voice) Manu Narayan (voice) And many more!


The Peer Gynt Projecta month long exploration of the classic Ibsen play

June 3 – 29th @ University of Scranton, Pennsylvania

Grace Zandarski is a faculty member of the Acting Department at Yale School of Drama where she has taught Voice since 2002, specializing in Advanced Vocal Technique and Text for 2nd and 3rd Year Actors. She has coached numerous YSD productions and coaching credits at Yale Rep include Comedy of ErrorsThe Master Builder and the 2010-2011 season’s Romeo and Juliet. In addition to YSD, she has served on the faculties of some other fine actor training programs in the U.S. including Fordham University, A.R.T./MXAT (Harvard’s Advanced Actor Training Program), N.Y.U., and The Actors Center. She has taught master classes on Voice and Text for the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare Lab. Grace was named Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework in 1998. She was a member of the 2006 Voice Consortium Delegation/Teaching Exchange Program with Russia’s MXAT, GITES, and Vaktangov Theatre Schools. In 2008 and 2010, she was the recipient of YSD STAR Grants for work with Pantheatre, Paris, France. Grace continues to work as an actor, director, and voiceover artist. Stage acting credits include the McCarter Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Ashland, and A.C.T. Vocal Coaching credits include Yale Rep, McCarter Theatre and BAM. She has an M.F.A. in Acting from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and a B.A. in English from Princeton University.

Felix Ivanov has an M.F.A. from the Vakhtangov Academy Theater, Russia. He is a graduate of the Schukin Theater School at the Vakhtangov Academy Theater and the Stasov Musical School (violin), Moscow, Russia. Mr. Ivanov is well versed in the art of the musical clownery, physical comedy, stage combat, movement, and character dance. In addition, he has achieved the master’s level in Chinese martial arts of Kuoshu and the black belt/Shodan rank in Judo. Felix has developed an original dynamic training for the actors, and he gained an international recognition for his teaching method. He has taught at numerous international and American colleges and universities. His choreography of stage movement/combat has been seen at such venues as the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C.; the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; the Shakespeare Theater Festival in Cleveland; and the Acting Company, the Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Theater Workshop, the Wooster Group, at the Pearl Theater, the Cherry Lane Theater, the Soho Repertory Theater, Soho Playhouse, and Tele/Vest (TV serial) in New York City, among others in the U.S.A.