For the Game of Thrones generation, LA Opera’s dazzling new production of Akhnaten at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion might just be the entryway into the world of opera. On Saturday, November 5th, an enthralled audience was treated to the lauded opera about the ancient Egyptian pharaoh – the husband of Nefertiti and father of Tut – who turned the kingdom upside down when he abandoned polytheism for the worship of just one god.
The evocative score, rippling through in typical Philip Glass fashion, is accompanied by rousing choral harmonies and conducted by LA Opera’s new Artist in Residence conductor, Matthew Aucoin, who also gave an incisive lecture before the performance. English, Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian (ancient Mesopotamian) are blended to deliver a mythical sound that enhance the mesmerizing costumes and set design that would be right at home on an HBO epic series.
Countertenor, Anthony Roth Costanzo, who sang his first opera when he was only 13, is hypnotic and powerful as Akhnaten and literally lays himself bare as the doomed ruler. “I have to make my entrance completely naked and it’s Los Angeles. I did this in London in the original production and being naked in London feels like a little less pressure than being naked in Los Angeles,” Costanzo said. “It’s a real discipline to do the opera and it’s one that I love.”
Stacy Tappan as Queen Tye and towering Zachary James as The Scribe are also stunning. And as for J’Nai Bridges as Nefertiti, wait till you see the love duet which will leave you breathless.
Akhnaten plays through November 27th.