Occupy Goes to the Opera

In a gentle clash of life and art, famed composer Philip Glass addressed Occupy Wall Street protesters outside New York’s Lincoln Center last night after a performance of his opera, Satyagraha, based on the early career of Mahatma Gandhi.

The demonstrators encouraged operagoers to join them as they left the theater, and it looks like many did. As a crowd gathered, Philip Glass began to speak. Using the “mic check” method of amplification, the crowd repeated the words that Glass recited from the opera. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross documented the encounter on his blog, noting that the message the composer spoke to the Occupy crowd was drawn from the Bhagavad-Gita, as sung in the third act of Satyagraha:

“When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.”

Satyagraha (Truth Force) is the principle of nonviolence that became the central tenet of Gandhi’s work against racism in South Africa in the early 20th century. Philip Glass was inspired to write an opera about Gandhi’s early career in 1979. The composer notes, “ by the late ’70s, I thought that the political and social landscape had become so violent and that it was really time to think about the man who invented the idea of social change and non-violence. Little did I know that 30 years later, it would be far more violent.”



Image: Philip Glass addresses Occupy demonstrators and operagoers after a performance of Satyagraha. Still from Youtube video


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

We are about to launch a series of flash mobs, in an effort to carry the Occupy message to the people. I can't tell you where or when, but I can say that we are days away and it will be on a national basis.

I ask that each of you explore what the Movement is and what it isn't. It is a peaceful Movement to secure your voice, to re-enegize the nation and its peoples.

Join the 99% Occupy Movement, after all, you are a 99%er.

John Mansky
John Mansky6 years ago

Good publicity on both sides. Thank you for the article...

Diane Stollger
Diane Stollger6 years ago

Good to see the opera goers listened. The more people involved, the better.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

Can't stand Phillip glass and elitist opera crap, if you want to see the 1% go to an opera. And an opera about Gandhi, how insulting. While they in their ivory towers look down on us, the closest they can ever get to suffering a national struggle is the Opera, and the poor OWS protestors have had to endure some upper class twit reading at them, it's no wonder that they've all gone home!!

jerry coleman
jerry coleman6 years ago

Artist have a right to be involved glad to see it

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m6 years ago

Talk about the stars being in the proper allignment!
This was great, both for Occupyers and Glass, and hopefully a few patrons of the arts learned a thing or two also...

Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

We need to keep the democratic conversation going and what better place than after a performance about Gandhi?

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Now that was logical thinking, just what the people have been demanding, the next step.

If you explore history, such as the evolution of the struggle begun by Mahatma Gandhi and his followers, it becomes abundantly clear that that struggle was one of baby steps.
Well calculated, baby steps.

With the passage of time, others would take those words, those acts and utilize them to continue to free their fellow brothers and sisters, around the world.

This is the primary mission of the Occupy Movement, action through non-violence, a persistent demand for change, an honest, lasting change.

Yes, the latest action has proved to have reached across the alleged economic divide. It went on to prove that despite what you may have heard from FoxNews, more Americans are getting energized by the Movement. Join the Occupy Movement, Regain Your Voice.

Demand that we stop our series our fruitless, illegal, immoral Wars.
Demand a National Health Care Plan
Demand relief for those that must depend on Food Stamps, all 47 million of them.
Demand the GOOD JOBS for the 49 Million at LIVE below the poverty line.
Demand that the wealthy in America pay THEIR fair share of the tax burden.
Demand that we STOP the military from enjoying the vast majority of monies spend, read wasted.
Demand that we STOP the unnecessary Subsidies.

I know full well that I can continue with my demands, I ask that each of you continue, contribute your thoughts. What do YOU think? What needs to be corr

Barbara R.
Barbara Resendes6 years ago

Each person involved in this peaceful movement, right from its inception is phenomenal. If, instead of valuing the individual, you glorify a person because of their status, talent, money, or brains then we are repeating the history that got us into this insane predicament in the first place; namely allowing someone else to control you, look after you, by believing everything they say because of their position, etc. etc. We are all capable, gifted, and intelligent people. Lets not forget that ever again.