Phoolan Devi Opera
In 2008, Gayathri Khemadasa decided to write an opera about the life of Phoolan Devi (the Bandit Queen of India in the 1980’s) after being inspired by her powerful autobiography. Gayathri is the daughter of the late Premasiri Khemadasa, who was the first Sri Lankan to write an opera and had an illustrious career as a composer. Growing up, in the house of the “Master” and being surrounded by his melodies has deeply influenced Gayathri’s decision to become a composer and follow in her father’s footsteps. After studying music in Prague, Czech Republic, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to work on the opera in 2011 and gave a premier performance in Connecticut, USA in May of last year, as well as performances at esteemed places such as Dartmouth College N.H., as well as institutions on the east and west coast of the US.
After many years of living away, Gayathri has returned to Sri Lanka with the ambition of restarting her father’s music academy, the Khemadasa Foundation. The foundation was established in Sri Lanka in 1992 by Premasiri Khemadasa to foster the musical talents of low-income youths, regardless of race, religion or gender and especially those from underprivileged parts of the country. All training and courses given to these students has been free of charge. These musicians will carry the opera’s message as a statement about violence against women and children, around the country and the globe.