Great Performances at the Met: Akhnaten

Great Performances at the Met: Akhnaten

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Experience Philip Glass’ masterpiece portraying the Egyptian Pharaoh as he rises to the throne.

Great Performances at the Met presents Academy Award-nominated composer Philip Glass’ Akhnaten, airing Sunday, May 3, 2020 at 1 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Anthony Roth Costanzo stars as the legendary pharaoh, Akhnaten, alongside J’nai Bridges as Nefertiti with DĂ­sella LárusdĂłttir as Queen Tye and Zachary James as Amenhotep III. Karen Kamensek conducts in her Metropolitan Opera debut.

The final part of Glass’ Portrait Trilogy (preceded by “Einstein on the Beach” and “Satyagraha”) and sung in English, Phelim McDermott’s production is set during the 17-year reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaten, around 1350 B.C. At the funeral of Amenhotep III, the heart of the deceased pharaoh is weighed against a feather to determine if he will travel through into the afterlife. Then, Amenhotep’s son steps forward and his coronation ceremony begins. As the new pharaoh rises to make his first pronouncement at the Window of Appearances, he reveals his intentions to form a monotheistic religion. He changes his name from Amenhotep IV, meaning “spirit of Amon,” to Akhnaten, meaning “spirit of Aten.” Aten, the sun god, is glorified by Akhnaten, his wife Nefertiti and his mother Queen Tye. Akhnaten leads a revolt to banish the old religion and replace it with his own, but he enters the temple and finds the priests still performing the old religious rituals. Akhnaten banishes them and forms the new order of Aten. Meanwhile, Queen Tye is worried as she senses unrest beyond the city’s walls. A crowd gathers outside the palace gates and break through the doors, marking the tragic end of Akhnaten’s reign. Internationally acclaimed American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato—the star of the Met’s new production of Agrippina—is program host.

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