Director: Phelim McDermott
Designer: Julian Crouch
Conductor: Edward Gardner
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Video Design: Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer
English National Opera / Improbable
London Coliseum, April 2007
Satyagraha by Philip Glass and Constance DeJong was staged in April 2007 as a co-production between the English National Opera, The Metropolitan Opera New York and Improbable. Spring 2008 will see the production open in New York.
Using multiple projectors to cover the entire performance area, Fifty Nine Productions created a range of visual material which appeared throughout the show. Large scale textual projections replaced surtitles, and an aesthetic based on Gandhi's newspaper, The Indian Opinion informed the overall video design.
'An extraordinary success... A succession of quotations or even single words appear across the cyclorama or on newspapers held aloft by groups of westerners who read only what they are required to read....The visual ingenuity of McDermott and Crouch's staging is a constant source of intrigue and illumination.'
THE INDEPENDENT ****
'[Satyagraha] is an astonishingly beautiful work...it is impossible to imagine a better execution...The whole thing serves as a monumental affirmation of human dignity at a time when many have begun to question its very existence - and for that we must be infinitely grateful.'
THE GUARDIAN ****
'Ravishingly beautiful...they make magic out of a corrugated iron wall, projections and reams of newsprint.'
'A masterwork of theatrical intensity and integrity... The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles...The perfect marriage of music and subject matter.'
THE TIMES ****
'[A] faultless new production by Phelim McDermott and Improbable, designed by Julian Crouch...The guiding visual metaphor is the newspaper, transformed variously into screens, banners and staggeringly effective puppets - silent papier-mache giants more than six metres high. And in a stroke of pure genius, rolls of Sellotape are stretched into a quivering stave across the wide stage, then gathered like sticky insect wings. Such magical tableaux create an event field on which the music meditates.'
EVENING STANDARD ****
Visually this is a hugely impressive show, with the Improbable team of highly skilled physical actors, puppeteers, aerialists and others creating sequence after sequence of striking and beautiful imagery.
Satyagraha was at the Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, London (English National Opera) until May 2007. It re-opens at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in April 2008.