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Rediff.com  » Movies » Rushdie's Haroun an opera now

Rushdie's Haroun an opera now

September 16, 2004 10:22 IST

When Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against Salman Rushdie on Valentine's Day 1989, the Mumbai-born author went into hiding, where he eventually wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

A fable written for young readers and adults, Haroun narrates the fate of the story-teller, who loses his ability to tell tales. His son then sets out on a journey to save his father's skills.

Rushdie had intended the book as a gift to his son Zafar, who was 11 in 1990, to make the son understand his father's plight. 

After the book reached out to audiences uncomfortable with the complexities of Rushdie's other novels and became a huge success, the writer tried to get Haroun adapted for the big screen. 

Two years ago at the Telluride Film Festival in the US, Rushdie revealed that he wanted a film based on the book to be directed by American director Terry Gilliam, a former member of the British comedy group Monty Python. 

When the project did not take off, Rushdie worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Charles Wuorinen and British poet James Fenton to adapt Haroun into an opera.

Now after more than a decade, on October 31, the New York City Opera will hold the world premiere of Wuorinen & Fenton's opera, Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The opera is directed by Mark Lamos. 

'It's a strange book, Haroun,' Rushdie recently told New York magazine. 'This was one that came with the greatest fluency -- it took me less than a year, and it's now taken ten times that long to adapt, so you know this is a much larger achievement.'

Haroun and the Sea of Stories will open at the Lincoln Centre's New York State Theater for six shows ending on November 11. 

Aseem Chhabra in New York
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