8 December 2013

Satyagraha back at the ENO (December 2013)

Satyagraha was such a spectacular when I first saw it at the ENO in 2007 that I went to see it again when it returned in 2010 and, another three years later, I was back to see it for a third time.

Quick booking got me a good front row seat in the Dress Circle for a shade under £100. Seemed a bargain to me.

Satyagraha was a collection of musical images tightly coupled by the life of Ghandi, Philip Glass' hypnotic music, and the floating text. It is not a story and does not pretend to be one.

I have only seen the opera three times in six years so I am far from familiar with it but I know it just about well enough to know that much of this production was the same as in previous years (such as the shoe shining scene) but there were some differences too. The cellophane I noted in previous productions had gone, possibly to be replaces by a roll of newspaper. I think that some clothes lines were missing too.

The ending was visually very different. The black orator who seemed to be Martin Luther King was promoted to a major roll and, I think, became Barack Obama. He certainly had the tall build and strong arm gestures to be him.

The minor changes apart, it was the same beautiful and charming opera that I had loved before and loved again. It moved gracefully, powerfully and rhythmically for three delightful hours with lots of fabulous singing from the soloists and chorus.

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