Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music
November 1, 2018

“Whenever there is a decline of righteousness, and a rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself again. For the protection of good and the destruction of evil doers, for the sake of establishing righteousness, I come into being from age to age.” The words are those of the God Krishna that underpin the meditative conclusion of Satyagraha. Presented here in a brilliantly conceived Swedish fusion of singing and circus, Philip Glass’s 1980 opera has never felt more timely.

Leif Aruhn-Solén as Gandhi in Satyagraha. Photo © Stephanie Berger

The conceit is simple: both circus and opera are all about taking risk. So too was satyagraha, Gandhi’s principal of passive political resistance, born in British-controlled South Africa around 1910 and later deployed in the Indian independence movement. To act, or not to act? It’s a choice we all have, and Gandhi’s genius – by, for example, the simple burning of a passport – was in showing how laws and lawmakers can be defeated simply by overwhelming an overloaded bureaucracy or blowing out an under-resourced penal...