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Sunday, August 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Philip Glass revisits ancient Egypt with ‘Akhnaten’

Dan Webster

In early November, when The Metropolitan Opera staged a revival of composer Philip Glass' opera "Akhnaten," New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini explained the show's appear this way: "(T)he production largely succeeds at Mr. McDermott’s goal of presenting 'Akhnaten' as a 'weird fever dream' combining ancient Egypt and the Victorians who fetishized it."

Tommasini was referring to director Phelim McDermott, whose job it was to bring Glass' work to life for the first time since 1984. Tommasini's biggest gamble: combining jugglers with his cast of singers.

"The riskiest element involves a 12-person troupe of jugglers — Sean Gandini, the director of Gandini Juggling, is credited as choreographer — in spandex catsuits," Tommasini wrote. "The circuslike juggling provides an apt visual representation of the spiraling rhythms of Mr. Glass’ music."

Your chance to see those jugglers, not to mention singers such as countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (cast in the title role as the fabled Egyptian ruler) and J'Nai Bridges (as Nefertiti), comes at 1 and 6:30 p.m. today at the Regal Cinemas theater at Northtown Mall (this is a repeat of the Nov. 23 broadcast).

Tommasini thought the jugglers may have been a bit much. But, as he wrote, the singers were not. "Wearing gauzy red robes with extravagantly long trains, Mr. Costanzo and Ms. Bridges seem at once otherworldly and achingly real," he wrote. "His ethereal tones combine affectingly with her plush, deep-set voice."

Doing what they can to make Mr. Glass proud.

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