Satyagraha: the yoga opera not to miss


Occasionally in life one gets lucky. So it was that I was able to see and listen to Philip Glass’s seminal opera at The English National Opera on a beautiful crisp winters evening at the London Colliseum.

ENO Production Trailer

I confess that prior to attending I was not aware just how yogic this magical opera is. I enjoy Philip Glass’s music and sometimes use it in my yoga classes. I also, when I have the self-discipline to do so, enjoy reading The Gita, and what it says about the nature of yoga, which represents yoga not as an exclusively Hindu practice, but one open to all.

Here is a quote from the libretto which illustrates the kinship between the Gita, yoga, and this music…

“When the motives of a man’s actions are fired from desire, the works are burned clean by wisdom’s fire of truth.  When he casts off attachment to his deeds, a man embarks on his work ever content, on none dependant.  With thought and self controlled, giving up of all possessions, he cares for his bodily maintenance without excess, taking what chance may bring, surmounting all dualities, the same in success and in failure”

This was quite possibly the most enjoyable evening at an opera which I have ever had. One needs to listen and watch opera as one would poetry. Then you start to get it! Likewise, poetry is often so much better for being read aloud. And when one reads poetry one brings to it an individual interpretation just as a singer brings to a song.

This opera is truly beautiful. The music is sublime with a rich balance of male and female roles and an abundance of work for the chorus too. The ENO do it proud: the staging, lighting, colours, acrobatics, costumes, are brilliant. It’s a feast for your eyes, ears, and mind.

If you get a chance go and see it, or listen to the music. In truth I believe this is, unfortunately, an instance where the music alone does not do justice to the full operatic experience which does indeed bring it into life; giving it the perspective one needs to really appreciate it’s meaning.

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