The Met's new production.
The minimalist American composer Philip Glass, who has been nominated for three Oscars for his film music and achieved extreme popularity through his hypnotically powerful music that always finds a ready audience, described his 1984 opera about the pharaoh Akhnaten as the high point following his two previous biographical works for the stage: Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, the latter about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. 'All three men were guided by vis...ions with which they changed the eras in which they lived,' said Glass. 'The religious reforms of the revolutionary innovator Akhnaten brought about a new ethos that impacted every aspect of life.' The libretto for this work dedicated to the historical figure who lived around 3300 years ago was compiled by the composer himself from original ancient texts, the pharaoh's own poetry and the Book of the Dead, as well as from Hebrew and Akkadian writings. These are all sung in the original languages, along with commentary from a narrator.
In the title role will be the star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanza, with his wife, the beautiful - as surviving busts attest - Nefertiti sung by mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges. Only a few years into her career, she is making her Metropolitan début in this role.
Also making her Met début with this production will be conductor Karen Kamensek, who has worked with the composer on numerous occasions. Director Phelim McDermott also staged Glass's earlier opera Satyagraha at the Met, as well as at the English National Opera. He has conceived the ritualistic plot of Akhnaten for the stage with riveting visuals that incorporate acrobats and jugglers.
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