Review Round Up: Satyagraha, English National Opera

First staged in 2007, Phelim McDermott’s production of Satyagraha is back in London. Here’s what the critics have been saying about it: 

Satyagraha is composer Philip Glass’s meditation on Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, tracing the progress of his concept of non-violent protest as a positive force for change.

The Guardian: *** “It’s not so much an opera as a lengthy meditation, with next to no plot, a setting impossible to contextualise without a head full of Wikipedia and a text entirely in Sanskrit.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “The imaginarium of Phelim McDermott, on the other hand, remains a phenomenon that cries out to be seen. Four stars to him and to associate director and designer Julian Crouch for an eye-filling achievement.”

The Stage: ***** “conductor Karen Kamensek combines precision with steadiness and flexibility in supervising a musical performance that is both contemplative and stimulating, and at its best transcendent.”

The Telegraph: *** “these dreary noises don’t make me feel poetic, they don’t calm me or leave me feeling at one with the universe – they merely fill me with a sense of utter, pointless banality.”

The Upcoming: ***** “Although a three-hour opera about Gandhi doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice, when you’ve seen it you can understand its popularity. This is an opera to get lost in.”

The FT: **** “It feels as mesmerising as ever.”

The Times: *** “The images and icons that the Improbable team create with the simplest materials are astonishing even on a fourth viewing.”

Diary of a Londoness: “In the end, it dawned on me that Philip Glass is to opera what Jamie XX is to clubland and what Wayne McGregor is to ballet. He’s weird, he’s wonderful, and you don’t need drugs to get off on what he’s dishing out.”

Evening Standard:**** “McDermott’s staging is equally slantwise. Part installation, part performance art, part circus, it generates a restless sequence of startling images.”

Plays to See: **** “A lesser production would reveal the flatter patches of this over-long work, but, as it stands, this revival is a fine representative of the kind of work that ENO does best, and which would not be replicated in Covent Garden.”

Satyagraha continues to play at the English National Opera until the 27th February. To book tickets click here or visit:, Love, Last, Encore Tickets, See and Theatre Tickets

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