Udupi, October 18, 2020: Maddale Maestro Hiriyadka Gopal Rao, popularly known as ‘Maddale Mantrika’, passed away at his residence in Ontibetti near Hiriyadka in Udupi on Saturday. He was 101.
The Maddale Maestro died due to age-related ailments on Saturday at around 9 p.m., informed family sources.
A Rajyotsava awardee, the veteran Yakshagana artist served in many melas and played maddale in the ballets of Kota Shivaram Karanth. He was also part of Kinnara Nritya and Mooka Nritya programmes of Karanth.
Mr. Gopal Rao was instrumental in introducing the forearm-long maddale instead of the traditional maddale that is 30-inch long. These two maddales are now used in Yakshagana shows.
Born to Ayurveda doctor and Yakshagana artist Sheshgiri Rao and homemaker Lakshmibai on December 15, 1919, Gopala Rao learnt to play the maddale from his father. He learnt the Yakshagana dance under Nagappa Kamath.
He further trained in the instrument under Perdoor Venkata Rao. He donned some roles in the Hiriyadka mela and picked up ‘Bhagavatige’ (singing) from Srinivas Uppoor, father of renowned Bhagavatha Narayana Uppoor.
He was part of the Mandarthi Yakshagana Mela for three decades and was instrumental in forming the first Yakshagana mela in Hiriyadka.
Mr. Rao served as principal of the Yakshagana Kendra and taught various aspects of this traditional art form. Among the artists he trained are American national Martha Bush Aschan, who came to India to learn Yakshagana in 1969. He held Yakshagana training sessions and maddale classes at Ambalpady and other places.
He learnt about traditional medicine from his father and was treating patients. He stopped practising following stringent regulations.