Saturday, 29 April 2017

Theater Basel | Satyagraha

Satyagraha, an opera by Philip Glass based on the book by Philip glass and Constance de Jong plays at the Theater Basel now with the Komische Oper Berlin and Vlaamse Opera Antwerpen as co-producers.
The whole opera is in Sanskrit, with German and English surtitles. 
The verses used for the opera are all from the ancient Indian epic poem, the Bhagavad Gita, which is one of the central texts of Hinduism.
The opera had something mesmerizing and sometimes almost meditative for us.
From the first moment the dancers from the company Eastman were incredibly powerful and the music was enchanting, for us Glass' minimal music is the perfect music to tell Gandhis story and the repetitive character of the music is what creates an almost meditative effect.
The stage consisted of one large platform held by wire ropes that pulled the platform into different positions during the show.
Satyagraha took us on a time travel through Gandhis early years and through everything that influenced him, from the author Tolstoi to the newspaper Indian Opinion to the march from Newcastle into the Transvaal to defy the Immigrants Regulation Act of 1913 we accompanied him through all these stations, up until the conflicts of the present day, where the dancers confront the audience with present problems of acceptance and tolerance by writing words on their bare bodies.
Rolf Romei as Gandhi was pushed and pulled and beaten up through the different scenes, but with an almost stoic calm he continued to chant his verses even when he was upside down.
The traditional costumes by Jan-Jan Van Essche were amazing and the colours were very strong, together with the use of light created a very special atmosphere that made us feel like we were back in the early days when the opera takes place.
All the singers, the choir and the dancers were absolutely magnificent. It was an incredibly powerful opera that completely captivated us from beginning to ending and especially the last scene, with Gandhi meditating on the upheaved platform touched us very much.

musical direction: Jonathan Stockhammer
production and choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
stage: Henrik Ahr
costume: Jan-Jan Van Essche
light: Roland Edrich
choral conduction: Henryk Polus
dramatic composition: Pavel B. Jiracek

Rolf Romei as M.K. GANDHI
Cathrin Lange as MISS SCHLESEN
Maren Favela as KASTURBAI
Andrew Murphy as MR. KALLENBACH
Nicholas Crawley as PARSI RUSTOMJI / KRISHNA
Anna Rajah as MRS. NAIDOO
Sofia Pavone as MRS ALEXANDER
Karl-Heinz Brandt as ARJUNA

Jason Kittelberger, Georgios Koatsifakis, Kazutomi "Tsuki" Kozuki, Elias Lazaridis, Nicola Leahey, Josepha Madkoi, Nemo Oeghoede, Shintaro Oue, Patrick Williams Seebacher (Twoface), James Vu Anh Pham, Ema Yuasa

choir of the Theater Basel
symphony orchestra Basel

© pictures: Sandra Then

1 comment:

  1. I'm going in June and can't wait. This was the first opera I ever saw (in Seattle) when I was 18.