Quantcast Skip to main content


Press & Media

Press Release: Akhnaten

LA Opera 30th Anniversary Season header


LA Opera presents company premiere
of Philip Glass's Akhnaten

Artist in Residence Matthew Aucoin
makes mainstage debut as conductor 


(Los Angeles) October 13, 2016 — General Director Plácido Domingo has announced final casting information for LA Opera’s new production of Akhnaten by Philip Glass. A co-production with English National Opera, Akhnaten will be conducted by Artist in Residence Matthew Aucoin and staged by British director Phelim McDermott.

"The music of Philip Glass, one of today’s foremost composers, has figured prominently in our repertory in recent seasons," noted Mr. Domingo, "with popular presentations of Einstein on the Beach and Dracula. Akhnaten, however, is our very own new staging of this extraordinary work, presented in a co-production with English National Opera, where it was presented earlier this year. I am delighted that the company's new Artist in Residence, Matthew Aucoin, will make his mainstage conducting debut leading this extraordinary work."

Akhnaten will have six performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, 90012) from November 5 through 27, 2016.

About the Opera
Akhnaten is the third in a trilogy of "portrait operas" by Philip Glass based on important historical figures. Like Albert Einstein and Gandhi (the subjects of Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha), Akhnaten changed the world into which he was born. A fascinating figure from ancient Egyptian history, the pharoah Akhnaten abandoned the worship of many gods for just one: the Sun God reigning supreme. In the opera, Akhnaten's bold attempt to alter the course of history with a single revolutionary idea ultimately leads to his violent overthrow.

The mesmerizing score by Philip Glass is filled with driving rhythms, powerful choruses, and exquisite ensembles. The vocal text (performed in English, Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian) was drawn from original sources by Shalom Goldman.

The Cast
Fast-rising countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, the 2012 first-place winner of Operalia, makes his LA Opera debut in a role he first performed at English National Opera earlier this year. Also making her LA Opera debut is mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, who performs the role of Nefertiti, Akhnaten's bride. Soprano Stacey Tappan, whose many LAO appearances include, memorably, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire (2014), appears as Queen Tye, the pharoah's mother.

The cast also includes baritone Kihun Yoon, a member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program as General Horemhab, and tenor Frederick Ballentine, an alumnus of the program, as the High Priest of Amon. Bass Zachary James makes his company debut as the Scribe and bass-baritone Patrick Blackwell returns as Aye.

For artist bios and additional casting information, click here.

The Creative Team
Phelim McDermott, a founder of the acclaimed British theater company Improbable, makes his LA Opera debut as director of Akhnaten. He has staged three operas by Philip Glass for English National Opera: Satyagraha, The Perfect American and Akhnaten. The sets and costumes for Akhnaten are respectively designed by Tom Pye and Kevin Pollard, both of them in their company debuts. The lighting designer is Bruno Poet. Akhnaten notably features ten jugglers, whose choreography is created by Sean Gandini.

Conductor Matthew Aucoin begins a three-season tenure as LA Opera's Artist in Residence. This position, created for him, fuses his work as composer and conductor: each season, he will conduct at LA Opera, beginning with Nosferatu and Akhnaten this autumn. He will conduct two productions, including one of his own operas, next season. LA Opera has commissioned him to compose a new opera, which he will conduct in the 2019/20 season.

Performance Dates and Times
There will be six performances of Akhnaten at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion:

•    Saturday, November 5, 2016, at 7:30pm
•    Thursday, November 10, 2016, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, November 13, 2016, at 2pm
•    Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 7:30pm
•    Saturday, November 19, 2016, at 7:30pm
•    Sunday, November 27, 2016, at 2pm

Tickets are on sale now. Tickets begin at $19 and can be purchased in person at the LA Opera Box Office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, by phone at 213.972.8001 or online at LAOpera.org. For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email LAOpera@LAOpera.org.

To download artist headshots and production photographs (as they become available), click here.

Contains nudity; parental discretion advised.

LA Opera's new production of Akhnaten is made possible by generous gifts from Lenore and Bernard Greenberg and from Ceil and Michael Pulitzer, with additional support provided by donors to LA Opera’s Contemporary Opera Initiative.

J’Nai Bridges’ appearance in Akhnaten is generously underwritten by a gift from the Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Emerging Artists Program.

New co-production with English National Opera. A collaboration with Improbable.

LA Opera is a non-profit organization dedicated
to serving the greater Los Angeles community.


LA Opera Media Contact:
Fran Rizzi, Director of Communications and Public Relations
frizzi@laopera.org | 213.972.7554

Facebook icon   YouTube icon   Twitter icon  Pinterest icon   Instagram logo