On Oct. 20, LA Opera completes Glass’ ‘Portrait Trilogy’ with Satyagraha. Since 2013, the company has staged Einstein on the Beach, Dracula: The Music and Film and, most recently, Akhnaten. In anticipation for opening night, here are five highlights to look forward to from the production!
The word ‘Satyagraha’ is Sanskrit for “truth force” and is inspired by Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, where he developed a radical new idea of nonviolent political resistance. The cast of Satyagraha recently sat down with LA Opera to discuss the themes of Glass’ score and the story itself.
“[Satyagraha is] about taking action, rather than, you know, simply hoping. And it’s something that’s very relative to today,” says mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, who sings Kasturbai in LA Opera’s production. Watch the video above to learn more!
Sean Panikkar’s Debut
Fast-rising tenor Sean Panikkar makes his LA Opera debut as Gandhi in Glass’ iconic masterpiece. The Sri-Lankan-American tenor has sung all over the world at some of the most prestigious opera houses and festivals, including the Metropolitan Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Salzburg Festival and Opera Theater of St. Louis, among many others. We are excited to welcome Panikkar is his long-awaited debut!
English director Phelim McDermott made his LA Opera debut with Akhnaten in 2016, also by Philip Glass. McDermott returns with his 2008 production of Satyagraha, which was co-commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera. The production was praised for its use of “fanciful imagery, aerialists, gargantuan puppets and theatrical spectacle to convey the essence of a self-consciously spiritual work” (The New York Times) and was proclaimed as “an unmissable music theatre experience” (The Guardian).
In his program notes, McDermott states that the best way to experience this opera is to “let it communicate to you through different levels of reality: as historical events that are important but also on a mythical, dreaming level of forces that exist outside of normal time and space.” Click here to read his notes on Satyagraha.
Young Artist Alums
Two alums of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program return to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage in Satyagraha: Baritone Theo Hoffman as Mr. Kallenbach and soprano So Young Park as Miss Schlesen, Gandhi’s secretary. Hoffman has previously appeared with LA Opera as Maximilian in Candide, Le Dancaïre in Carmen and more. Additionally, Park sang Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (2016) to great acclaim, and was hailed as “stunning” by LA Times.
Maestro Grant Gershon
LA Opera Resident Conductor and Chorus Master Grant Gershon also returns to the podium in Satyagraha. Apart from his work as the Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Gershon made his LA Opera debut in La Traviata in 2009, followed by the world premiere of Daniel Catan’s Il Postino in 2010. He has since conducted many times with the company, including Florencia en el Amazonas (2014), Gianni Schicchi (2015), Wonderful Town (2016) and many more.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.