In Phelim McDermotts spellbinding production of Philip Glass’ AKHNATEN, star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo is the title pharaoh, the revolutionary ruler who abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism; the belief of numerous deities. The radical pharaoh wanted his people to worship just one god – the sun. In a bid to enforce his new way of thinking, Akhnaten closed the temples to the old gods, wiped their names from monuments and built a new Egyptian capital, Akhetaten.
The immersive opera doesn’t have a conventional narrative or libretto. Instead, the story of Akhnaten is told through a series of tableaux. To match the opera’s hypnotic, ritualistic music, celebrated director McDermott offers an arresting vision that includes a virtuosic company of acrobats and jugglers. Akhnaten loosely follows the real story of the emperor’s rise to power, the erecting of his new city and the fall of his dynasty.
The cast features striking mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as the ruler’s wife, Nefertiti, soprano Dísella Lárusdóttir as Queen Tye, tenor Aaron Blake as the High Priest of Amon, baritone Will Liverman as Horemhab, bass Richard Bernstein as Aye, and bass Zachary James as Amenhotep III.
The press was absolutely thrilled:
“Gleaming” — New York Magazine.
“A spellbinding production” — New York Times
“Triumph for the Met … Breathtaking.” — Observer