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Philip Glass’s Satyagraha Returns to the Met 11/4

Philip Glass’s Satyagraha Returns to the Met 11/4

Philip Glass's inspirational opera Satyagraha (Sanskrit for "truth force") will return to the Metropolitan Opera November 4 in the first revival of Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch's innovative 2008 production. The opera, which earned exceptional praise in its Met premiere, is based on Mahatma Gandhi's early life in South Africa, where he developed the revolutionary philosophy of non-violent resistance that continues to be used in protests around the world. "Almost all the techniques of protest-now the commoxn currency of contemporary political life-were invented and perfect by Gandhi during his South Africa years," Glass has said.

McDermott and Crouch's production uses a combination of large-scale puppetry, sets made of materials such as corrugated metal and newspaper, and projected supertitles to immerse the viewer in Glass's poetic world. Conductor Dante Anzolini will lead a cast that features Richard Croft, reprising his critically acclaimed interpretation of Gandhi. On November 19, the opera will be transmitted worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series, which is now seen in 1,600 movie theaters in 54 countries.

Satyagraha is divided into three acts, each inspired by a major historical figure: the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, and the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The plot of the opera follows Gandhi through his formative years as a young attorney in South Africa, where his firsthand experience of racial inequality inspired him to create the movement of non-violent resistance that would define his life and work. The Sanskrit libretto, by Glass and Constance DeJong, is taken from the Bhaghavad Gita. Croft will be joined by two of the other leads of the Met premiere production, Rachelle Durkin as Miss Schlesen and AlFRed Walker as Parsi Rustomji, and Kim Josephson will sing the role of Mr. Kallenbach.
The opera is the second part of Glass's famous trilogy of operas about important historical figures, which also includes Einstein on the Beach (1976) and Akhnaten (1983). Satyagraha is the second Glass opera to be performed at the Met, following The Voyage, a Met commission that premiered in 1992.


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by Richard Sasanow