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May 11, 2010 > "Fremont Opera Goes Bollywood"

"Fremont Opera Goes Bollywood"

Honoring Councilmember Anu Natarajan

By Eman Isadiar

On Sunday, May 23, east and west come together in an unusual event at an unexpected venue to recognize an extraordinary woman. Titled "Fremont Opera Goes Bollywood," this special black-tie gala is held at the historic Center Theater in honor of councilmember Anu Natarajan for her heroic work in support of the performing arts in Fremont.

The theater will be transformed into an extravagant party setting, perhaps not unlike a scene from a glitzy Indian musical. Guests will have a choice of Indian and California cuisines, and will enjoy arias sung by Fremont Opera stars. There will also be an auction in support of Fremont Opera, featuring exclusive vacation and entertainment packages. The evening will culminate in a grand Bollywood finale performed by an outstanding Bay Area Indian dance company.

A long-time Fremont resident, Anu Natarajan's deep commitment to the community first came to view in the months leading to Fremont's 50th birthday celebration, which took place during most of 2006. She became the most powerful force on the committee, working behind the scenes not only to plan, but to find private funding needed for the city's year-long celebrations.

In the process, she established strong ties of collaboration among Fremont's performing arts groups, which are still very much present today.

"I see Fremont as this model community," says councilmember Natarajan, "where diversity thrives in its people, culture, geography, neighborhoods - a city with huge potential to continue to build on its assets." With regard to the arts, Natarajan says, "Music and art are the universal languages that tie people together, especially in a diverse community such as Fremont where over 150 languages are spoken at home." She adds, "Art - through music, dance, painting, visual arts, and drama- is also a medium that reinforces our connections and commonalities."

Anu Natarajan is herself an artist not only at heart, but by profession as well. She confides, "As an architect, I continue to place great emphasis on design and aesthetics in all things big and small. For any place to be memorable, it has to integrate art in its various forms."

How appropriate, then, that Fremont Opera should bring together different art forms to express Fremont's gratitude to councilmember Anu Natarajan.

The event features three opera singers, all Fremont Opera veterans. Soprano Elisabeth Russ has appeared with opera companies throughout the United States. Tenor Eleazar Rodriguez appeared with Fremont Opera as Count Almaviva in "The Barber of Seville" and is now in his second year in the Merola Program of San Francisco Opera. Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, who starred as Figaro in Fremont Opera's 2008 "Barber of Seville," has appeared in many roles with San Francisco Opera and made his New York City Opera debut last year.

According to Fremont Opera General Manager Barbara Sloss, half of the tables are already filled. She adds, "I'm very excited about this event. We have wonderful singers to entertain, as well as the fabulous dance troupe Project Pulse. Our auction items will include exotic dinners, San Francisco Opera packages, theater tickets, and maybe a cruise or two. It's going to be an extraordinary evening."

Fremont Opera artistic director David Sloss points out that Bollywood stems from "an extraordinary and rich tradition which encompasses story, music, singing, dance, and drama - a perfect counterpart to opera." Clearly, opera aficionados and fans of Indian cinema have much more in common than they might think.

So, if you belong to either group or simply want to show your appreciation for the work of councilmember Anu Natarajan, you will want to dress to the nines in your tuxedo or sherwani, sari or evening gown, and make your reservation for what promises to be Fremont's event of the year.

Fremont Opera Goes Bollywood
Honoring Councilmember Anu Natarajan
Sunday, May 23
6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Center Theater
37411 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
(510) 474-2004

$75 per person

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