Satyagraha (opera)

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For the philosophy, see Satyagraha. For 2013 Hindi film, see Satyagraha – Democracy Under Fire.

Satyagraha (/sʌtˈjɑːɡrəhə/; Sanskrit सत्याग्रह, satyāgraha "insistence on truth") is a 1979 opera in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists, composed by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance DeJong.

Loosely based on the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, it forms the second part of Glass's "Portrait Trilogy" of operas about men who changed the world, which also includes Einstein on the Beach and Akhnaten.

Glass's style can broadly be described as minimalist. The work is scored for 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, a baritone, 2 basses, a large SATB chorus, and an orchestra of strings and woodwinds only, no brass or percussion. Principal roles are Miss Schlesen, M.K. Gandhi, Mr. Kallenbach and Parsi Rustomji.

The title refers to Gandhi's concept of non-violent resistance to injustice, Satyagraha, and the text, from the Bhagavad Gita, is sung in the original Sanskrit. In performance, translation is usually provided in supertitles.

Performance history[edit]

Satyagraha was commissioned by the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, and first performed at the Stadsschouwburg (Municipal Theatre) there on September 5, 1980, by the Netherlands Opera and the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bruce Ferden.[1]

Its North American premiere was at the Artpark in Lewiston, New York, on July 29, 1981. That same year it was staged by the Stuttgart Opera (which went on to perform the complete trilogy in 1990); this production was taped during its revival in 1983 and released on video.[2]

The UK premiere was a joint production by Bath Spa University[3] and Frome Community College[4] in the theatre of Kingswood School.,[5] Bath in 1997.[6]

In 2007 a new UK staging was prepared by the English National Opera and Improbable theatre, co-produced by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This opened in London in April[7] and in New York the following April.[8] Well received, it was revived in London in February 2010[9] and in New York in November 2011; the New York performance on November 19 was part of the Met Opera: Live in HD series.

On September 16, 2014 a new production was staged at the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera in Russia. The creative team included Thaddeus Strassberger (direction and scenic design), Mattie Ullrich (costume design) Oliver von Dohnanyi (conductor).

Synopsis[edit]

The opera is in three acts, each referencing a major related cultural figure.

Act 1[edit]

Leo Tolstoy

  • On the Kuru Field of Justice
  • Tolstoy Farm (1910)
  • The Vow (1906)

Act 2[edit]

Rabindranath Tagore

  • Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
  • Indian Opinion (1906)
  • Protest (1908)

Act 3[edit]

Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Newcastle March (1913)

Recordings[edit]

  • S. Woods, D. Perry; Keene, New York City Opera Orchestra and Chorus. 1984 (Sony)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Philip Glass.com Satyagraha
  2. ^ "Movies: About Philip Glass: Satyagraha". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  3. ^ Bath Spa University website
  4. ^ Frome College website
  5. ^ Kingswood Theatre
  6. ^ Phil Johnson, "Review: OPERA Satyagraha Kingswood School, Bath", The Independent (London), 20 February 1997. Retrieved 23 August 2013
  7. ^ Finch, Hilary (7 April 2007). "Satyagraha". The Times (London). Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Satyagraha
  9. ^ Satyagraha, English National Opera Productions page

External links[edit]