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Taj Mahal

“My own soul is my most faithful friend; my own heart, my truest confidant.” Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire, knew well the solitude of ultimate power. This new opera delves into the intrigues and passions of the Emperor Shah Jahan, who ruled over a fifth of the global population in the 17th century.

Shah Jahan’s legacy is enshrined in the Taj Mahal, the world’s most opulent ode to love. But in the midst of their riches, this is the tale of a royal family facing vengeance, heartbreak and unthinkable sacrifice.

Director Stephen Medcalf writes:

“Nishat Khan is descended from the court musicians of the Moghul period, and he narrates the epic from his sitar, giving a unique and personal interpretation of events.

“Taj Mahal is a love story which explores the extraordinary romance between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. We begin in the Octagonal Tower at the Agra Fort, in 1665, where Shah Jahan is held in captivity by his son Aurangzeb; Shah Jahan is old and dying, but from his prison he has a view of the Taj Mahal, which is a constant reminder of the enduring love of his wife Mumtaz.

“Guided by Khan, the story is presented as a series of kaleidoscopic flashbacks, through which we see elephant fights, enthronements and civil wars. As fathers and sons struggle for precedence, Mumtaz is the moral centre of the piece, a lone voice speaking out against the family rivalries. Amidst murder and mayhem, we see how she meets Shah Jahan, how they fall in love and how she dies in childbirth, inspiring her Emperor husband to build a magnificent tomb, one of the most iconic buildings on earth: ‘A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time’.”

An opera in 2 acts

Sung in English

Music Nishat Kahn

Libretto Kit Hesketh-Harvey

First performance 10 July 2025, Grange Park Opera, Surrey

Cast & Creatives

SHAH JAHAN, fifth Mughal emperorCASPAR SINGH
MUMTAZ MAHAL, his chief consort ∙ JULIA SITKOVETSKY
JAHANARA, their daughter ∙ ELIZABETH KARANI
AURANGZEB, their son, sixth Mughal emperor ∙ ROSS RAMGOBIN
JAHINGIR, Shah Jahan’s father ∙ ROSS RAMGOBIN
NUR JAHAN, Jahingir’s consort ∙ VICTORIA SIMMONS

 

CONDUCTOR ∙ GEORGE JACKSON
DIRECTOR ∙ STEPHEN MEDCALF
DESIGNER ∙ YANNIS THAVORIS
VIDEO DESIGN ∙ HAYLEY EGAN
LIGHTING DESIGNER ∙ TIM MITCHELL

Taj Mahal

Shah Jahan

Mumtaz Mahal

Jahanara

Aurangzeb

Jahangir

Nur Jahan

Tickets

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