Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Music: Akhnaten by Philip Glass

This is an opera based on the life of the controversial pharaoh Akhnaten (or Ankhenaten or Akhenaten depending on who is spelling it.) who brought Egypt under the religion of the Aten. The opera includes musical interludes, chorus, single vocals and spoken word which makes it very interesting. Much of the singing is in Ancient Egyptian and taken from primary source materials which is one of the things I love about this opera. While the spoken word parts are in English the structure of the language reads very much like an ancient text which I believe only adds to the mystique of this opera. There is a very clear feel of a temple or sacred space to the music and vocal presentations in this opera which I think works very well considering Akhnaten's influence on religion.

More information on the opera can be found here including some photographs of the costumes used in a production of the opera. If you are thinking about acquiring this truly beautiful opera it is available as both a two cd set and as mp3.

Bust of Akhenaten

You can also watch/listen to the opera on youtube. Act 2 Scene 3 (about 23 minutes into the 2nd video) is one of my favorite parts in the entire opera.

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