Satyagraha -  ENO / Improbable / metropolitan opera - projection design by 59 Productions

Cast and Creative

Director: Phelim McDermott

Designer: Julian Crouch

Lighting Designer: Paule Constable

Costume Designer: Kevin Pollard

Video Design: Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer (59)

Associate Video Designer: Lysander Ashton (59)

Satyagraha - ENO

ENO / Improbable / Metropolitan Opera

Reviews - November 2013

"Surely the most distinctive and brilliant achievement on the London operatic scene in more than a decade....It’s hard to imagine Satyagraha ever being better done, yet difficult to believe that ENO will revive the show again. Do anything – anything non-violent, of course – to see it now."

***** Daily Telegraph

"An inspired marriage of sight and sound...

Given that the history is jumbled and the libretto is in Sanskrit, the singers have to make a similar sort of surrender, and since there are no English surtitles, so does the audience.

But no production ever made surrender so easy. Events unfold with dreamlike poise - the stage in a constant state of self-transformation – and one watches entranced as Improbable’s brilliant ‘skills ensemble’ create cows, crocodiles, jousting giants and Hindu gods with somnambulistic purpose and precision. Yet it’s all done with pea-sticks, papier-mache, Scotch tape, and painterly lighting....Unforgettable"

***** Independent

"A really striking achievement on many levels, and an unmissable music theatre experience. If anything, its broad philosophical message is even more profound now than before, in the wake of today's unrighted injustices and often wilfully unlearned lessons of the financial crisis....The wonder is that all this succeeds so brilliantly and involvingly. It does so, above all, because the production by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch understands and has creative confidence in Glass's music and aims. The staging is full of visual patterns and flights of fancy of its own, which match and intertwine with those of the music. The attendant presences of Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore and Martin Luther King emphasise the broader connections of the Gandhian story....Seriously engaging."

**** The Guardian

"With its mesmerising imagery this production of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha left audiences spellbound when it was new at English National Opera in 2007 and on its third outing is looking just as enthralling and atmospheric (wonderful lighting) as it did originally...Director Phelim McDermott of the Improbable theatre company has matched the opera’s pace, mood and meaning to perfection....Switch off the mobile, take a deep breath, and enter the theatre of the soul."

**** Financial Times

"What really gripped me, though, as it did colleagues when this production was new in 2007, is the fluidic and breathtaking ingenuity of the engrossing night"

**** The Times


A huge success at its London premiere in 2007 and at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the following year, Philip Glass's operatic masterpiece returns to ENO. Satyagraha is a mesmerising musical meditation on Mahatma Gandhi's early years in South Africa and his spiritual progress towards the concept of nonviolent protest.

One of the most visually spectacular productions of recent decades, Satyagraha is instilled with theatrical flair by the award-winning director designer partnership of Improbable's Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch.

Returning to the roles they created in 2007 and reprised in 2009 are Alan Oke as Gandhi and Janis Kelly as Mrs Naidoo. Satyagraha is conducted by Stuart Stratford.

Click here to book tickets.

Please click here to read information and reviews of the original staging of this production at the Coliseum.

Please click here to read information and reviews of the New York production.


Reviews of the 2011 revival

"Mahatma Gandhi seems an unlikely operatic hero, but the Met’s production of Philip Glass’ “Satyagraha,” revived on Friday, is a masterpiece of musical and visual art."

NY Post

"This is a production that should be seen for the brilliance of the staging...

McDermott and Crouch [...] have created a feast for the eyes. The set is a semi-circular wall that looks like corrugated tin. The stage is filled with grotesque oversize puppets, stilt-walkers and aerialists, and the designers make inventive use of simple materials like newspaper and sticky tape."

Washington Post

"The cast — including the Skills Ensemble, whose members variously impersonated the historical figures, manipulated puppets and props, flew aloft and otherwise populated the stage — was clamorously received in curtain calls, as was the production team. Finally, Mr. Glass took the stage, to a hero’s welcome."

New York Times

Reviews of the 2008 New York revival

"The production is a work of genius that ranges from the very simple to the fantastically ambitious ... A sense of playful fantasy somehow suits the meditative mood of the music and the serious needs of the religious and political subject matter.

"Satyagraha" is not among this season's high-definition broadcasts of Met productions at movie theaters. Someone who knows the ways of the company told me that adding it to the schedule could cost a million dollars.

They should find a million dollars."

LA Times

"Satyagraha” emerges here as a work of nobility, seriousness, even purity."

New York Times

"The Improbable theater company's production of Philip Glass's "Satyagraha," which opened at the Metropolitan Opera on Friday night, represents the kind of work the Met should be doing. It is an important revival of a major recent piece. It is a significant work of theater. And it provides an all too rare demonstration of the fact that new opera can indeed be a contemporary art....a profound and beautiful work of theater. The final act is a masterpiece of the power of simplicity."

Washington Post

"For this new production, introduced last year at the English National Opera, director Phelim McDermott and designer Julian Crouch fashioned scenes as enigmatic and transcendent as Glass’s music. Portions of Constance DeJong’s libretto, adapted from the Bhagavad Gita, are projected onto a curved wall of corrugated iron that frames the action. Ordinary materials such as newspaper and packing tape are transformed into props, scenery and animated creatures, gracefully manipulated by stilt-walkers and aerialists...the most achingly beautiful presentation the Met has introduced since Anthony Minghella’s Madama Butterfly in 2006."

*****Time Out New York

"Hypnotic visual and musical magic."

Wall Street Journal

"A transcendent evening of theater and one of the most striking new Met productions of recent years....The production is a constantly unfolding phantasmagoria of surprises."



Read an interview with Philip Glass about the production in Newsweek