The New York Times has a behind-the-scenes look at a new version of Phillip Glass's modernist opera, "Satyagraha," which is playing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York until May 1. There is also a companion video piece, which I could watch but not listen to from the computer I'm working on this morning.
The libretto uses the Bhagavad-Gita as a source, and the opera as a whole aims to index some of the key events in Gandhi's early political awakening in South Africa with the plot and text of the Gita. That alone might be a little confusing, since the central question facing Arjuna in the Gita, as most readers will know, is whether or not to fight -- and Gandhi's signature political contribution ("Satyagraha") is the philosophy of non-violent resistance. The choice could of course be defended depending on your interpretation of the Gita, and indeed, I gather that Gandhi did his own translation -- with commentary -- of the Bhagavad-Gita in 1924. I haven't read Gandhi's version, though I should note that it has recently been re-published as a volume called Bhagavad-Gita According to Gandhi.
The current interpretation of Glass's work adds some new elements, including a strong focus on newsprint and newspaper culture as a theme in Gandhi's story (that at least seems dead-on). There are also towering puppets, made of "newspaper, fiberglass kite poles, light cotton cloth and lots of latex glue," which symbolize historical figures from Gandhi's past (Tolstoy), present, and future (MLK).
It seems like an interesting work, though I have to admit I'm not sure I personally would enjoy it. (And most tickets under $100 have already been sold out, so it's not something where a person would go casually...) Has anyone seen this? Is anyone planning to?