Composer: Philip Glass
Librettist: Philip Glass
Shalom Goldman
Other Artistic Personnel: Achim Freyer (Stage Director)
Dennis Russell Davies (Conductor)
Anton Zapf (Assistant Conductor)
Ulrich Eistert (Chorus Master)
Original Cast: Paul Esswood (Akhnaten)
Milagro Vargas (Nefertiti)
Work Web Site: http://www.philipglass.com/music/compositions/akhn
Premiere Date: March 24, 1984
Producing Company: Württemberg State Opera
Description: Akhnaten is the third of Glass's "portrait operas" and is based on the life of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaten who ruled Egypt from 1375 B.C. to 1358 B.C. It is not a story opera but an episodic-symbolic portrait of an historical personality whose revolutionary ideas changed the world around him.

After an orchestral prelude, Act I commences with the funeral of Amenhotep III, Akhnaten's father. After the funeral rites, the new pharaoh prepares to receive the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. He is later joined by his wife Nefertiti and his mother, Queen Tye. Act Two begins with the Amon (the principal deity of the time) temple and a small group of Amon priests, led by their High Priest. The Atenists, led by Akhnaten and Queen Tye, attack the temple and pull off the roof, letting in the light of Aten. Akhnaten and Nefertiti then sing a duet. After a dance, the Hymn to Akhnaten is sung. In the central part of the opera we learn, in Akhnaten's own words, the inspirations for his religious and social reforms. Act Three begins by showing the isolation between Akhnaten's family and the people of Egypt. A mob, supporters of Amon, bursts into the palace and carries off Akhnaten and his family. The scribe describes the rebuilding of the Amon temples after the fall of Akhnaten. This section of the opera serves to link Akhnaten's time with the present. Tourists wander through the ruins of his city, taking pictures and listening to the tour guide. The opera ends with the ghosts of Akhnaten and his family moving alone through the ruins of their city.
Character List (Major): Akhnaten(countt)
Nefertiti(a or mz)
Queen Tye(high s)
High Priest of Amon(t)
Character List (Minor): Six Daughters of Akhnaten(3 s, 3 mz)
Reviews: The New York Times, John Rockwell, 3-26-84; The New York Times, Donal Henahan, 11-5-84; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 11-4-84; The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 11-19-84; Time, 6-3-85; The New York Times, Bernard Holland, 11-9-85; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 9-18-86; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 6-25-90; Time, 7-2-90; The Wall Street Journal, Mark Swed, 7-10-90; International Herald Tribune, David Stevens, 6-22-90; Opernwelt, 5-84, p. 27; Opera News, 6-84, p. 36; Opera, 9-84; p. 785; Opera News, 1-5-85, p. 39; Opera, 5-85, p. 480; Opera, 8-85, p. 955; Opera News, 2-16-85, p. 46; Musical America, 2-85, p. 20; Opera, 6-85, p. 615 & 693; Opera, 4-87, p. 460.
Comments: Libretto written in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel, Richard Riddell, and Jerome Robbins. Libretto incorporates Egyptian, Arcadian, Hebrew, and language of the audience.
Length: 03:00
Total Acts: 3
Chorus: SATB Chorus, minimum 24
Orchestration: 2 fl(picc), 2 ob(2obda), 2 cl(bcl), 2 bsn - 4 hrn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn, 1 tba - 3 perc - syn(cel) - str(no vln) Alt Red Ver: 3 perc - 4 kbd
Musical Style: Minimalism, triadic, harmonious, static harmonic movement, spoken text, rhythmically driving. Sung in Hebrew, Egyptian, the ancient Semitic language Akkadian, and the audience's language.
Contact: Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc.(pub) or G. Schirmer, Inc.(agent)
Phone: 212-979-2080
Composer Web Site: http://www.philipglass.com/
Publisher Web Site: http://www.dunvagen.com
Schedule of Performances Listings
Akhnaten (Glass)
Saturday, March 19, 2011 - Long Beach Opera
Akhnaten (Glass)
Friday, January 23, 2009 - Atlanta Opera
Akhnaten (Glass)
Thursday, May 16, 2002 - State Opera of South Australia
Akhnaten (Glass)
Wednesday, July 19, 2000 - Chicago Opera Theater
Akhnaten (Glass)
Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - Boston Lyric Opera
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Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

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