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Saturday, 27 March 2010

athlete of the spirit

Satyagraha
"It'll be fine", someone said, as we dinged a front door bell sometime after midnight, to see whether we could get some coffee and a chatter.

A gang of us had been to the opera, and then on for a very lively Italian supper.

Let's rewind.

Six thirty at Trafalgar Square on the way to the Coliseum, for the last night of Satyagraha, by the English National Opera. It's the recent revival of the piece by Philip Glass about Ghandi's non-violent protests in South Africa. Waiting outside for part of our ensemble, there were glimpses of other well-known people entering for the performance, including Rufus Wainwright, who is about to put on his own opera "Prima-Donna" close by in Clerkenwell at Sadlers Wells.

A three act piece, developing the Philip Glass score which used woodwinds and strings alone, to provide a progressive and meditative score telling part of Ghandi's story, from three perspectives involving Leo Tolstoy, Indian poet Ravindranath Tagore, and Martin Luther King.

Dramatic staging across an arced and corrugated steel stage, fabulous precise singing from the lead performers, bold use of imagery and a contemporary and fresh feel to the score created an evening event of impressions and emotion. The lyrical context was also back projected as the piece unfolded, with the lyrics (libretto?) mainly in Sanscrit.

Enjoy a sample of the work here, whilst browsing the music.

The Coliseum is a fine venue for such a performance, although the manners and inefficiencies of staff in the Dress Circle kingdom are at odds with general London hospitality.

Afterwards, we made a very direct route to a marvellously hospitable Italian restaurant, where we enjoyed simple later supper and chatted over the positive experience of the evening, before 'the lost and then found' bag episode and the route to the late doorbell.

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