Other effects are more subtle. Hal Leonard Online Have a listen to the score…. In keeping with eastern philosophical thought, past, present and future are elided and the narrative glides backwards and forwards through time So what more do you want from your opera? Homophonic ensemble writing Vocal Score in Satyagraha.
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Part 1 3. Original production: The Netherlands Opera Company. Director: David Poutney. Lighting: Richard Riddell. His three operas — Einstein on the Beach , Satyagraha and Akhnaten — have been produced by several leading opera houses while the composer and his ensemble are capable of selling out Carnegie Hall one night and a mid-western rock club the next. His music is based on the extended repetition of brief, elegant melodic fragments that weave in and out of an aural tapestry.
Listening to this music is something like watching a challenging painting that initially appears static, but seems to metamorphose slowly as one concentrates. Compositional material is usually limited to a few elements, which are then subjected to transformational processes. One thing is certain: Philip Glass has brought a new and enthusiastic audience to contemporary music.
Philip Glass was born in Baltimore, Mariland, in , and began his musical studies at the age of eight. At fifteen, he entered the University of Chicago, where he majored in philosophy but continued what had become an obsessive study of music. After graduation, he went the route of many other young composers: four years at the Juilliard School in New York, and later work in Paris with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger.
At the same time, Glass was exploring less conventional musical routes, working with Ravi Shankar with Allah Rakha. He acknowledges non-Western music as an important influence on his mature style. In , Glass returned to New York City, where he quickly established himself as an important figure in the blossoming downtown arts community. I had gone from writing in a gentle, neo-classical style that owed a lot to Milhaud into a whole new manner of music.
The time was not right for my work. The group, composed of seven musicians playing woodwinds and a variety of keyboards with amplified voices, began concertizing regularly in the early 70s, playing for free or asking for a small donation.
Some listeners were all but transfigured by the whirl of hypnotic musical patterns the ensemble unleashed, while others were bored, hearing only what they perceived as mindless repetition. But slowly, very slowly, the concerts gained a cult following, and then, this time suddenly, Einstein on the Beach, a collaboration with the austere theatrical visionary Robert Wilson, became the talk of the international musical community.
Einstein broke all the traditional rules of opera. Things were getting better. The ensemble played Carnegie Hall and sold it out, there were more engagements and more critical praise. He was invited to speak in establishment conservatories, such as the Manhatten School of Music. He had arrived. As opposed to the Spartan Einstein, which was written for the Glass Ensemble, actors and solo violin, Satyagraha is scored for more conventional forces — a full string section.
It never occurred to me to try to create a standard orchestral sound. I want to keep my sound There is very little soloistic writing. I concentrate on mixed timbres — as if the orchestra were an organ. Gandhi fought the South African authorities on the issue of the Black Act, and eventually won non-violently — by organizing hunger strikes and peaceful demonstrations. Satyagraha was completed in early and received its first performance in Rotterdam that September. Each act of Satyagraha takes a historical figure as a sort of spiritual guardian, watching the earthly action from above.
Tolstoy, Tagore, and King represent the past, present and future of Satyagraha. It is a work written entirely on a moral, even religious, plane — more ritual than entertainment, more mystery than opera. While Einstein challenged all our ideas about what an opera — even an avant-garde opera — should be, Satyagraha neatly fits Glass into the mainstream.
The opening scene is an aria that becomes a duet, then a trio, all set down in a rich, declamatory, near-Verdian manner. Still, while Glass seems to be consciously coming to terms with his forerunners, there is never a descent to parody, nor a hint of borrowing. One never doubts who the composer is. The closing measures are masterful — has the unadorned Phrygian mode ever seemed such an eloquent melody in itself, repeated as it is, some thirty times over shifting musical sands?
The nuclear anxiety of Einstein seems far away, replaced by a serene power — call it truth-force, or, better still, Satyagraha — and an all-encompassing sense of peace. So, when we undertook this production of Satyagraha, we knew at the start that we would not employ the conventional method of recording an opera, which consists of doing a number of takes and then splicing parts of them together to create a complete performance. Instead, taking advantage of the technology at our disposal, we chose to build up a performance in layers, through overdubbing.
We had used overdubbing occasionally on Einstein on the Beach, somewhat more on Glassworks, and throughout on The Photographer. The result of this method is a seamless master tape which is the fruit of many separate recording sessions.
Although overdubbing has been used for many years in the popular music field, it is almost never used for classical recordings. But we felt that it was worthwhile to solve these technical problems for the benefits in consistency and rhythmic accuracy of performance which would result. Furthermore, recording in layers allows greater attention to individual instrumental and vocal detail during the recording process than does the conventional method.
It also allows greater flexibility in balancing the various instruments and voices during mixdown. We selected the 3M track digital machine as our master recorder. Besides providing state-of-the-art sound, this machine has the added advantage of providing noise— and dropout-free entry and exit from record mode while rolling. This makes it possible to correct an error in a continuous performance by rolling the tape from just before the error, having the performers play or sing along with the tape, and engaging the record mode only during the errant passage.
We proceeded as follows: after consultation with Christopher Keene and the composer about tempos, cuts, ritards, and so on, I recorded a set of guide tracks for the entire opera, consisting of a keyboard reduction track, two or sometimes three click metronome tracks, and a cue track announcing important measure numbers.
The multiple click tracks were needed because of the polyrhythmic nature of much of the music. While the computers were able to handle sudden changes in tempo and some ritards, longer ritards and accelerandos were accomplished by manually riding the tempo control during the transfer to tape.
The cue track was recorded at the time of this transfer. Then we recorded the orchestra in sections; we began with the strings; and when they had finished their parts for the whole opera, we brought in the woodwinds Satyagraha does not call for brass or percussion instruments. After the woodwinds, we recorded the chorus, and finally the soloists.
There was an unusual intensity in the control booth during all of these sessions, because the drawback of the overdubbing procedure is that you cannot save one take while you are doing another; a retake always erases the previous take. Thus, irrevocable editing decisions must be made on the spot.
Christopher Keene, Dir. Cast ofr Characters: M. Gandhi: Douglas Perry, tenor. Kallenbach European co-worker : Robert McFarland, baritone. Parsi Rustomji Indian co-worker : Scott Reeve, bass. Naidoo Indian co-worker : Sheryl Woods, soprano.
Alexander European friend : Rhonda Liss, alto. Rabindranath Tagore Historical figure. Act II. Martin Luther King. Historical figure, Act III.
Flute: Gerard Levy, John Wion. Oboe: Livio Caroli, Leonard Arner. Bassoon: Cyrus Segal, Bernadette Zirkuli. Keyboards: Michael Riesman.
Chorus Coach: Joseph Colaneri. Concert Master: John Pintavalle. Contracor for the Chorus: Randolph Peyton. Contractor for the Orchestra: Secondo Proto. Piano and Guide Tracks: Lorene Forsyth. Digital Engineer: Mark Good. Digital multi-track supplied by Digital by Dickinson. Cover photo: Harry M. Album design: Geoffrey Winston.
Booklet design: Thumb Design Partnership, London. Music published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc.. New York, N.
Philip Glass: Satyagraha: Opera
Voodoole For example, the third focuses on a meeting in where everyone present swore an oath to resist the proposed Black Act, and their doing so is played out in more ways than one. From the moment when Alan Oke Gandhi began his ineffably sweet opening aria over a gentle cello ostinato, I was caught and held by the sheer beauty of the staging, singing, and playing in the pit. These are then cut and bundled up to form a huge person where the skill in the original design is matched by the slickness in execution that ensures the same effect is achieved night after night. The first two acts each contain three scenes; the last is one continuous scene. Against a semicircular backdrop of rusted corrugated iron, the visual rendering of the scenes is highly effective. Community All comments Contributor list Columnist list. The Improbable Skills Ensemble generates all sorts of effects as it seemingly conjures up puppets from discarded scraps.