Philip Glass’s undulating, ecstatic opera in the key of resistance returns to ENO for a third time, and it’s an honest to the gods near-spiritual experience of sharp, hot beauty and political provocation. Director Phelim McDermott’s production well deserves the acclaim that’s been heaped upon it in the six years since its premiere: its balancing of eye-widening spectacle and delicate intimacy is unrivalled, and despite the stately ritualism of its pacing, its message cuts deep and fierce.
Glass’s opera, the second in his ‘Portrait Trilogy’, traces Mahatma Gandhi’s stand for Indian independence in those two vital decades at the beginning of the 20th century. Each act is overseen by a great figure in the orbit of Ghandi’s philosophy of satyagraha, the soul’s ability to remove opposition or alter hearts through force of truth rather than violence. Tolstoy, the father of the school of Christ-inspired ‘Tolstoyan’ philosophy which was…
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