Angeles Review by Willard Manus
Los Angeles Opera also mounted another equally offbeat and challenging opera recently, Philip Glasss AKHNATEN, a three-hour work about ancient Egypts strangest Pharaoh. Sung by a counter-tenor (the dynamic Anthony Roth Costanzo), Akhnaten is depicted as an other-worldly cross between a man and a woman, a self-styled God (the son of the sun) whose mission was to destroy all the other false Gods of his time and build a new, radical, monotheistic society.
Anthony Ross Costanzo (Photo: Craig T. Matthew/LA Opera)
First produced in Stuttgart in 1984, followed soon after by productions in Houston and New York, AKHNATEN was mounted locally in 2011 (by Long Beach Opera). Now LA Opera, in a co-production with English National Opera, has caught up with this avant-garde work, which features highly stylized, often snail-like stage movement by the cast, spectacular lighting effects, elaborate costumes (some elegant, some downright wacky), a mighty chorus, much tumbling and juggling (by the Gandini Juggling Co.), and a vocal text drawn from such esoteric sources as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, biblical Hebrew and Babylonian texts, and Akhnatens own jottings.
score took all of these diverse elements and wove them together in a skillful
way, providing a throbbing, dark, hypnotic undercurrent to the slowly
unfolding story. Akhnatens regime lasted a mere seventeen years:
people, especially the reactionary priests, couldnt accept his revolutionary
theological and artistic ideas. They turned on him and not only destroyed
the city he built but murdered him, sparing, though, his mother, Queen
Tye (Stacey Tappan), his wife, Nefertiti (JNai Bridges) and his