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Mod Opera Marvel

November 07, 2016



What is it about ancient Egypt? From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra to blockbuster exhibitions of Tutankhamun’s mummy, this extraordinary culture has us hooked. And no one has captured this fascination better than American composer Philip Glass.

In 1983, the minimalist maestro wrote his staggering operatic epic Akhnaten, a bold, mesmeric take on this heritage-rich civilization with driving rhythms, powerful choral harmonies and a hypnotically repetitive score.

And luckily for LA-bound globetrotters, it’s coming to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this month.


A new co-production between LA Opera and the English National Opera (ENO), the work is directed by Phelim McDermott and led by hot young conductor Matthew Aucoin (LA Opera’s new Artist in Residence). The gloriously eye-catching costumes come care of Kevin Pollard, with exotic set design by Tom Pye and vibrant contemporary lighting by Bruno Poet.


The opera tells the tale of megalomaniac pharaoh Amenhotep IV who ascends to the throne with his bride Nefertiti, changing his name to Akhenaten. He dreams of converting his people from worshipping many gods to devotion to just one – the Sun God, Aten. Altering the course of history, his revolutionary vision risks violent overthrow.


Anthony Roth Costanzo stars as Akhnaten, with J’Nai Bridges as his wife Nefertiti, in this three-hour production with two intermissions. If you don’t catch all the lingo, that’s because the opera segues from English to ancient Egyptian, biblical Hebrew and Akkadian. It contains nudity, so perhaps leave the kids at home!

5-27 Nov, 2016.

Akhnaten / Dorothy Chandler Pavilion / 135 N Grand Ave / Downtown / +1 213 972 8001 /

Photo © Richard Hubert Smith