AKHNATEN Returns to the ENO With Anthony Roth Costanzo in the Title Role

Akhnaten opens on Saturday 11 March 2023 at 19.30 at the London Coliseum for 9 performances.

By: Feb. 07, 2023
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AKHNATEN Returns to the ENO With Anthony Roth Costanzo in the Title Role

This spring, the Phelim McDermott production of Philip Glass's Akhnaten returns to the London Coliseum for its second English National Opera (ENO) revival since its premiere in 2016.

The Olivier Award-winning production traces the story of the eponymous Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh's abandonment of polytheism in favour of one God: Aten. It forms the last of Philip Glass's trilogy of 'portrait' operas in which he explores the lives of historical figures in the fields of science (Einstein), politics (Gandhi) and religion (Akhnaten) who changed the world. Its libretto is based on texts drawn from ancient hymns, prayers, letters and inscriptions sung in English, Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian.

The production combines Glass's characteristic minimalist voice with stylised movement and choreographed juggling in an unmatched visual spectacle provided by Improbable Theatre Company and Gandini Juggling.

Director and Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Improbable, Phelim McDermott's work with ENO includes the hugely successful Satyagraha, The Perfect American, Aida and Così fan tutte. He has won numerous awards, including an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, TMA Awards for Best Touring Production and Best Director, and a Critics' Circle Best Designer Award.

Returning to lead the award-winning ENO Orchestra in this iconic modern score is Glass expert Karen Kamensek. A specialist in twentieth and twenty-first century composers, Kamensek's Metropolitan Opera debut conducting this piece in 2019 was praised for 'convey[ing] the ripple, flow and quiet urgency of the music' (New York Times).

Reprising his role as Akhnaten is 'vocally brilliant and dramatically fearless' (New York Times) American countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who reunites with Kamensek following their 2022 'Best Opera Recording' Grammy win for this piece. Akhnaten is a role he has become synonymous with, praised for his 'otherworldly' (the Guardian) performance. Costanzo was recently made a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford in recognition of his work in interpreting ancient historical records to inform his performances and boosting interest in Egyptology.

Nefertiti is sung by American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams making her London Coliseum debut, returning to the ENO after 2017's co-production of Charlie Parker's Yardbird with Hackney Empire. Her recent role in Opera North's Carmen was praised for her 'glorious' (Planet Hugill) stage presence. South Korean soprano Haegee Lee makes her ENO debut as Queen Tye. A former Jette Parker Young artist, she recently sang a 'vibrant' (The Times) Frasquita in the Royal Opera House's Carmen.

Reprising his 2018 role is American bass Zachary James with as the Scribe, a role he portrays with a 'tremendously magnetic presence' (Opera News). A star of both the opera stage and Broadway, James originated the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass's The Perfect American.

New Zealand born Samoan baritone and current ENO Harewood Artist Benson Wilson sings Horemhab. British bass-baritone and ENO favourite Keel Watson reprises his 2019 revival role as Aye, and British tenor Paul Curievici makes an ENO debut as The High Priest of Amon.

The six daughters of Akhnaten are sung by British sopranos Ellie Neate and Ella Taylor, British mezzo-soprano Felicity Buckland and Scottish mezzo-soprano Lauren Young. Joining them are two current ENO Harewood Artists: British soprano Isabelle Peters and British mezzo-soprano Amy Holyland.

Also on stage are the Gandini Juggling Company, led by world-renowned juggler Sean Gandini. The creative team is completed by Set and Projection Designer Tom Pye, Costume Designer Kevin Pollard and Lighting Designer Bruno Poet, who have worked with McDermott on ENO shows including Satyagraha, Aida and Così fan tutte. The revival Lighting Designer is Gary James.

Akhnaten opens on Saturday 11 March 2023 at 19.30 at the London Coliseum for 9 performances: Mar 11, 18, 23, 24, 29, 30 & Apr 5 at 19.30. Apr 1 at 18.30.

Press night is Saturday 18 March.

The relaxed performance is on Tuesday 4 April at 14.30.

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee)*

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings

Co-production with LA Opera. Collaboration with Improbable.