Now the Met will rerun Akhnaten

Now the Met will rerun Akhnaten


norman lebrecht

December 07, 2019

After adding 3 performances of the sol-dput Porgy and Bess, Peter Gelb told theMet  audience at the last Akhnaten today that it will be back in two years.

It has taken 40 years for the Met to clink the Glass on its doorstep.

And 15 for Peter Gelb to wake up to a pair of American treasures.


  • NYer says:

    Um, what was Satyagraha?

  • AJ says:

    Why are you ignoring the huge success of the initial run of Satyagraha in 2008?? It returned in 2011 and was then no where near the “event” it was when it premiered.

    • Brian says:

      Ha, I remember that 2011 run of Satyagraha, though I didn’t hear it. I was outside, protesting with Occupy Wall St. (the odious Koch Bros. whose name and money are all over Lincoln Center). NYPD boxed us into one of their familiar cages with those metal barriers. This must have happened at the end or during an intermission (I forget which), but the composer came outside, talked with us a bit, and then climbed over the barrier to join us. He was soon joined by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, while dozens of opera-goers also followed these celebs outside into an autumn evening of social activism. The cops were utterly befuddled and just stood there watching. It was a great New York moment.

  • Monsoon says:

    Not quite sure what you’re implying about “40 years for the Met to clink the Glass,” but the Met has performed Philip Glass operas before, most recently “Satyagraha” in 2011.

    The delay in bringing “Porgy” back to the Met was caused by the Gershwin estate. During its 2011 broadway run the estate wouldn’t grant the rights to the Met because they didn’t want to have the opera competing with the Paulus adaptation. There was then a further moratorium when Spielberg was considering making a biopic about Gershwin. And unfortunately, assembling an all black cast and chorus still remains difficult (I also imagine that a deal needed to be reached with the Met chorus’ union to bring in an outside chorus).

  • Ken says:

    What about “The Voyage” commission premiere on Columbus Day1992? Doesn’t that count? And this stuff is all middlebrow trash, anyway. The man is the emperor’s new repetitive clothes — or lack of same in this case. As transparent as current DC politics.

  • MacroV says:

    In the same interview Gelb talked about the challenge in getting the rights to perform Porgy again. Apparently it wasn’t just a matter of paying the license fee.

    And they did so Satyagraha in 2008 and another Glass opera (the Voyage, IIRC, in 1992).

  • MWnyc says:

    I think Gelb probably knew about those treasures for quite a while. But the Met has a very long lead time, and Akhnaten and Satyagraha probably seemed like major box office risks until Satyagraha actually sold well (which wasn’t that long ago in opera company years).

    (Glass operas sell well at BAM, but I could easily imagine Gelb and his marketing department being uncertain as to whether the BAM audience would come to the Met; not so long ago, they wouldn’t. And a completely sold-out house at BAM would make up only a three-quarters-sold house at the Met.)

    Porgy and Bess is very expensive to produce (you have to hire a separate, all-black chorus and dance company while continuing to pay the chorus and dancers you already have on salary), and, while it’s a reliable box office draw if your production is good, you don’t know whether it will actually be good until it’s too late in the process to fix it. I think that’s the reason we don’t see the big U.S. companies treating it as standard rep and presenting it every three or four years.

    • Karl says:

      Do you really need the all-black chorus? Couldn’t they just use white people in black make-up? I’m sure no one would notice. lol..

  • fflambeau says:

    Gelb is not the only person in the musical establishment who has detested Philip Glass: just about all musical gatekeepers do. The pubic, however, has spoken and largely because of the huge success of his movie scores. And look at YouTube where his works have zilions of hits. Meanwhile, the kind of “academic” composers the gatekeepers favor have hundreds of hits.

  • Maria says:

    I saw it in the National.Media Cinema the other week, but live around February at ENO – practically the same production and same counter tenor, and done very well . I first saw ENO do Akhnaten in 1987! A bit late for the Met in 2019!! ENO for ever enterprising with all its faults.

  • Ostinato says:

    The Metropolitan Opera commissioned Philip Glass to compose The Voyage, a full length opera to commemorate Columbus’ discovery of America. It was premiered at the Met in 1992 and revived in 1996.

    The Met presented two series of Satyagraha in 2008 and 2011.

    This season they have performed Akhnaten, which has been a runaway success. So they want to revive it.

    Where is the problem?

  • John Russell says:

    I have never understood the Met’s scheduling except that the Artists are booked so far in advance elsewhere that it determines even the MET calendar.
    However, these two announcements prove that IT CAN BE DONE! (Hooray for more Porgy perfs; should be virtually annual, like Boheme or Traviata! And, no matter what one thinks of Glass’s Contribution to opera and vocalism –not much, IMO–the audience loves seeing it, SO GIVE IT TO THEM!)

  • Brian says:

    To be exact, it took them “only” 35 yrs. to mount this masterpiece (in a production that is essentially a British import). Maybe it’s occurred to them that honoring a highly influential composer from New York’s lower east side while he’s still alive might make sense. I hear he left his Ensemble’s sold-out Euro-tour for health reasons. That Elizabethan-style love duet from Act 2 was worth the price of admission all by itself.

  • M2N2K says:

    Admittedly I have not seen this production of Akhnaten which may well be very attractive visually for all I know, but I did listen to the radio broadcast of it last Saturday (for as long as I could tolerate it without endangering my psychological and mental health too much) and this reminded me once again that sometimes popular success in “classical” music has nothing whatsoever to do with the level of musical quality – what a dreadful cure for insomnia that is! We often talk about advantages of listening to music with our eyes closed, but if I am ever forced to attend performances of such operatic masterpieces in person, I should make sure to close my ears.

  • Yes Addison says:

    Others have made good points here already (Glass operas have been performed on the Met stage every decade since the ’90s; Gershwin’s absence was lengthened by rights issues). I’ll just add that Gelb took over in 2006, so he’s a little past 13 years, not 15.

    Also, the Met allegedly had a music director for the first 10 of those years.

  • Carmina Burana lite….even the Nazis would hate it.