12/1/2021

Akhnaten

  1. Akhnaten Review
  2. Akhnaten Philip Glass

Akhnaten is a mesmerising work whose text draws on ancient hymns, prayers and inscriptions sung in their original Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian. The opera’s unique mood will transport you to the ancient world through music that combines Glass’s characteristic minimalist voice with stylised movement and choreographed juggling to visualise. Akhnaten was a real Egyptian pharaoh. The pharaoh Akhenaten (spelt differently than the opera’s title character) is known for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism; the belief of numerous deities. With its army of jugglers, its sexy robes, architectural headgear, and bejeweled everything, this Akhnaten gratifies the desire for decadent blitheness and high-minded spectacle. We are not asked. Akhnaten is a mesmerising work whose text draws on ancient hymns, prayers and inscriptions sung in their original Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian. The opera’s unique mood will transport you to the ancient world through music that combines Glass’s characteristic minimalist voice with stylised movement and choreographed juggling to visualise. Akhenaten, also spelled Akhenaton, Akhnaton, or Ikhnaton, also called Amenhotep IV, Greek Amenophis, king (1353–36 bce) of ancient Egypt of the 18th dynasty, who established a new cult dedicated to the Aton, the sun’s disk (hence his assumed name, Akhenaten, meaning “beneficial to Aton”).

Akhnaten

Akhnaten was a real Egyptian pharaoh

The pharaoh Akhenaten (spelt differently than the opera’s title character) is known for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism; the belief of numerous deities. The radical pharaoh wanted his people to worship just one god – the sun (the Aten). In a bid to enforce his new way of thinking, Akhenaten closed the temples to the old gods, wiped their names from monuments and built a new Egyptian capital, Akhetaten. Still not familiar with Akhenaten’s story? You may have heard of his son Tutankhamun and wife Nefertiti.

Akhnaten

Glass was inspired to write the opera after reading books by Freud and Velikovsky

The inspiration for writing Akhnaten came from his reading of Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism and Immanuel Velikovsky’s Oedipus and Akhnaton. Velikovsky’s controversial book (the work that inspired Glass the most) explores the parallels between the Greek Oedipus, legendary king of Thebes, and the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Akhnaten Review

It’s not like any opera you’ve seen before

Akhnaten Philip Glass

The immersive opera doesn’t have a conventional narrative or libretto. Instead, the story of Akhnaten is told through a series of tableaux. Rhythms of Glass’s meditative score are visualised with stylised movement and choreographed juggling. 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.