Opera Masterpiece Satyagraha Returns to English National Opera

Philip Glass’ iconic contemporary opera — Satyagraha — is returning to the English National Opera in February, with Toby Spence leading the cast in his role debut.

The critically acclaimed production from director Phelim McDermott and Associate Director/Set Designer Julian Crouch (co-founders of Improbable) broke box office records for 20th-century opera on its UK premiere in 2007, making it the most popular contemporary work to be performed by ENO.

Satyagraha — a Sanskrit word meaning ‘truth force’ — looks at Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa and his development of non-violent protests as a political tool.

The story moves back and forth through Gandhi’s life, with the flow of time, words and music creating a hypnotic, almost ritualistic experience. Each of the three acts depicts a spiritual guardian who is linked to the Satyagraha philosophy.

Act 1 features Tolstoy, Act 2 the Indian mystic and poet Tagore and Act 3 Martin Luther King Junior, representing the past, present and future of Satyagraha.

Director Phelim McDermott, famed for his success in bringing Philip Glass’ works to ENO, is reunited with conductor Karen Kamensek following their hugely successful production of Akhnaten in 2016, which won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production.

Distinguished London-born tenor Toby Spence sings the principal role of M.K. Gandhi for the first time.

An ENO regular, Spence returns to the Coliseum having recently performed Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) at the Liceu Barcelona; Captain Vere in the Teatro Real’s new production of Billy Budd; and Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus) and Antonio (The Tempest) for the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Joining Spence in the cast are British soprano Anna-Clare Monk (Mrs Naidoo), Canadian mezzo-soprano Stephanie Marshall (Kasturbai), British baritone Nicholas Folwell (Mr Kallenbach), British bass Clive Bayley (Parsi Rustomji), British mezzo-soprano Sarah Pring (Mrs Alexander), bass-baritone Andri Björn (Lord Krishna), and British baritone Eddie Wade (Prince Arjuna).

The Olivier and International Opera Award-winning ENO Chorus also takes a central role as the mass force for change under Gandhi’s inspired leadership. Integrated with the ENO Chorus will be 12 members of a skills ensemble including aerialists, puppeteers, acrobats and regular performers with Improbable.

The highly acclaimed, spectacularly theatrical, visual feast, Satyagraha, runs at the London Coliseum from 1st February, with tickets available HERE.

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