So I was in the middle of watching the "Frozen Seas" episode of The Blue Planet, the beautifully photographed and poetically choreographed eight-part BBC documentary surveying undersea life in the world's oceans, when I remembered that the Met was broadcasting the Saturday afternoon matinee performance of Philip Glass's Satyagraha. Although the subject of the opera is of little interest to me, and the ethos being celebrated both irritating and tiresome (most especially so when co-opted in the Western world by the ethos of the Sixties), I did want to give the music with its incomprehensible Sanskrit text another listen. So I turned off the sound on the TV, and turned on the radio in time to catch the third act as it was opening.
It was bloody perfect. As soundtrack for The Blue Planet, I mean. And when I say perfect, I mean it was as if the music were written explicitly for the film right down to, for instance, the waddling step of the penguins who waddled on land in perfect time to the music, or the balletic, slow-motion swimming of whales to which swimming the music seemed a direct response. And then the next episode of the series — "Coral Seas" — came on, and the music fit that film, with its capturing of the evocative swaying movements of tropical undersea fauna looking more like lush flora than fauna, and the elegant gliding movements of myriad species of fish, even more perfectly.
I don't know what that says for Glass as an opera composer, but I can say I've never enjoyed The Blue Planet — or Satyagraha — more.