20 March 2010

Satyagraha back at the ENO (it was great!)

Either somebody has been playing around with my blog postings or it really is three years since I last saw Philip Glass' Satyagraha at the ENO.

I said then that a Philip Glass opera was unmissable and it still is and so I didn't!

The production was the same, and not much has happened to the theatre either, I also suspect that I sat in the Dress Circle last time too, but a second visit did offer more than the first.

The ENO itself impressed more than the first time (perhaps I was in a better seat after all) and I had little to complain about regarding the facilities. Finding Czech beer was good.

This was followed by finding a Czech couple who I know from the BCSA who provided some intellectual conversation prior to the performance.

The seating was better than I reported last time, the view was excellent and the audience where not the rowdy crowd that blighted Aida at ENO a little while ago. Good omens then.

The programme describes Satyagraha as a meditation upon Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa and it presents a series of images and scenes rather than a story. A musical tableau if you like.

With no story to detract you (and therefore no sur titles either) you can concentrate on the musical and visual feast played out before you.

As before, some of the scenes made little sense (not that this mattered and sense may not have been the intention either) and I still have no idea what the cellophane was all about!

The feast was served in three courses, each comprising a few dishes chosen to complement each other. These were linked by some common themes, notably newspaper, and by the hypnotic music. All these delights were spread out over a leisurely and luxurious three hours.

Some of my favourite treats were the ensemble singing with coats floating in the air at the end of the first course, the opening of the second course with the gentlemen having the shoes shined while singing some familiar Glass non-words, and the haunting close with just the soloists.

It was a juicy, bouncy, creamy evening with plenty to enjoy and absolutely nothing to detract from the pleasure. I just hope that it is not another three year wait before the next Philip Glass opera.

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