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Akhnaten

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2h 55min

Experience the magic of Philip Glass’ minimalist voice on this musical journey into the depths of Ancient Egypt. An extraordinary amount of effort has been put into maintaining the authenticity of the setting by basing the show on real hymns and prayers sung in their original languages.

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why watch akhnaten

After its first performance at the English National Opera in 1985, Akhnaten was performed over 20 times at various theatres around the world. It is Philip Glass’ third opera based on a historical figure. Akhnaten is one of the few shows that takes its setting and music very seriously, as enunciated by the Egyptian, Hebrew, and Akkadian vocals in a style that has now become synonymous with Philip Glass. The musical also generously employs coordinated juggling and orchestral singing to back the story. The narrative transcends cultural boundaries at times, sometimes borrowing from relatively recent European traditions to fill in the gaps.

The Story

The tale begins with Akhenaten's rise to the Egyptian throne after the death of his father Amenhotep III. His coronation is accompanied by great jubilation expressed by emphatic chorus singing and flashy juggling. The young pharaoh attempts to alter the general idea of ‘God’ and introduce the concept of monotheism in a fundamentally polytheistic society. Akhenaten's image as an able ruler spirals into public scorn and disgust, eventually resulting in him being overthrown by an enraged priest. While there is no clearly discernible storyline, the opera is a collection of vignettes within a meta-narrative. The soloists and chorus seamlessly blend into an orchestral style that is characteristic of Glass’ artistic pieces. An incredible degree of emotional depth is explored in the opera through its flawless music and visual presentation.

Good for

Fans of Opera | Fans of Philip Glass’ Work

Critics Reviews

“The ENO chorus and a troupe of jugglers shine in Philip Glass’s evocative opera about an empire-building pharaoh.”

The Guardian

“At the centre of the evening is ENO’s chorus, which has a great evening from both a musical and a dramatic point of view.”


The Stage

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Show Details

Genre: Opera

Duration: 2 hr 55 mins

Audience: To be confirmed

No. of Shows a Week: ~5

Opening Date: 11 Mar 2023

Closing Date: 5 Apr 2023

Theatre Name: London Coliseum

Theatre Facilities: Wheelchair accessibility, Restroom, Bar, Cloakroom, Assistive Listening System

Dress Code: Smart casual

Cast and Creatives

Anthony Roth Costanzo as Ankhaten

Chrystal E. Williams as Nefertiti

Haegee Lee as Queen Tye

Keel Watson as Aye

Zachary James as the Scribe

Conductor

Karen Kamensek

Director

Phelim McDermott

Additional Tips

  • Content Warning: Please be aware that this production contains some adult content that may not be suitable for young audiences.

  • The opera is sung in English. The surtitles Egyptian, Hebrew, and Akkadian with no surtitles.

  • Keep in mind, the theater is air-conditioned throughout the year and can get a bit chilly. Bring along a light jacket if needed.

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  • The ticket can be presented digitally at the entrance on the day of your visit.

  • Please note most of the theatres do not allow entry post the show start time and we recommend you to reach the venue 10-15 minutes early.

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