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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 17:50 GMT
ENO stages opera on Gandhi's life
Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948 at the age of 78
The English National Opera is to stage an opera based on the life of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Satyagraha: MK Gandhi in South Africa by composer Philip Glass will be performed in the language of Sanskrit as part of the company's 2006-7 season.

The opera depicts events in Gandhi's early life when he defined his belief in passive resistance.

Gandhi led India to independence from British rule in 1947, a year before he was assassinated.

The opera, which has never been performed before in the UK, will open at London's Coliseum in April next year.

Newly-appointed ENO artistic director John Berr said: "Satyagraha was written in the 1980s and Philip Glass regards it as one of his best pieces.

Philip Glass
Glass premiered his recent opera Waiting for the Barbarians last year

"It's about passive resistance, the reaction to identity cards, racial discrimination, a lot of subjects that are quite contemporary now. "

Sanskrit is the language and text of the Bhagavad-Gita, which Gandhi referred to daily.

The ENO says composer Glass used the Sanskrit text because it allowed him to communicate through sound without "the limitations of literal meaning".

The announcement comes after the ENO was rocked by industrial unrest and departures of key figures.

The opera will be staged after the opera Gaddafi, about Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, which is being created with rock group Asian Dub Foundation.

Operas announced for the 2006/7 season also include new productions of Verdi's La Traviata, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers.

Last week, the ENO appointed 31-year-old Edward Gardner as its new music director. It is now advertising for a new board chairman.

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