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Images and sounds of the dance, music, singing and stories from his youth in Yogyakarta never left director Garin Nugroho. Opera Java is a tribute to the Javanese culture in which he grew up, as it kept lingering in his memory. A culture that is disappearing, making this film a requiem as well. In this film one of the most performed episodes from the Ramayana epic receives a whole new interpretation. 'The abduction of Sinta' is one of the most performed episodes from the Ramayana epic. While Prince Rama is out, his beloved Sinta is abducted by the the giant king Rahwana. After Rama has freed her, after many wanderings and adventures, he kills Rahwana and tests Sinta's fidelity. She passes the test unharmed. While the old tale from the Ramayana smoulders under the surface, the opera provides a contemporay story of love and fidelity, passion and revenge, in a village in Java or elsewhere in the world. Stripped of the stereotype characteristics from the traditional Javanese theatre, the characters surrender completely to their emotions. As metaphors they give the opera a universal dimension. In Java this episode, 'Sinta Obong', is told by means of dance drana and in the wayang. Garin let himself be inspired by these traditions, but offers an original interpretation in Opera Java. With special attention to and knowledge of the rich palette of performing arts in Java, Nugroho brings together dance and theatre from the courts, the villages and the cities. He selects elements from different traditions, separates them from convention, enlarges them or leaves out some parts and transforms them to a new and unique dramatic language. A daring technique which is applied to movement, music and song, costumes and attributes. More than 25 Indonesian musicians, dancers and actors contribute to this spectacle. The music is composed by Rahayu Supanggah, securing the future of old Javanese traditions by renewing them. He combines musical instruments from gamelan and folk music, he boldly allows the previously strictly tonal systems 'slendro' and 'pelog' to be combined and he even adds western instruments like a viola or even a full string quartet.
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