Phelim McDermott first heard Philip Glass’s music in the 1980s while he was still a student and was instantly riveted. The American’s hypnotic compositions have been a wonderful obsession for the maverick British director ever since – “like a river through my life”, as he puts it.
Phelim McDermott on stage in Tao of Glasswith puppeteer Sara Wright, at the Manchester International Festival, 2019. Photo © Tristram Kenton
McDermott used Glass’s music in the first theatre production he staged after graduating from college, and has directed three of Glass’s operas: Satyagrahaabout Mahatma Gandhi, staged by English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera; The Perfect Americanabout Walt Disney, co-commissioned by ENO and Teatro Real, Madrid, and presented by Opera Queensland and Brisbane Festival in 2014; and Akhnaten, about the pharaoh who briefly brought monotheism to Egypt, first seen at ENO in 2016 and then the Met, where it was revived late last year and had a sold out season.
Now, a long-held dream of working directly with Glass has finally come true. A new show they created together called Tao of Glass, premiered last July at the Manchester International...