I made it to the opera in Berkeley tonight. I was impressed how the composer sympathetically conveys the experience of the President as he majestically gets off a long plane ride from the US to China. Oh wait, that's the other canonical late 20th Century American opera.
Ok, back to Einstein on the Beach. I can't decide if it was crazy, crazy good, or the whole experience was just a dream. Probably all three. Seeing is believing, in this case.
While the opera conveys next to nothing about Albert Einstein, it's definitiely a consciousness revolution take on the first half of the 20th Century. With hindsight, 1900-1950 should be classified as crazy. So those 1930s-born creatives, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, and Lucinda Childs, filtered that modern atomic era through a 60s/70s aesthetic. Call it a "double crazy."
I look forward to a future production, by younger artists, to see if the work can escape its creative context.
Doctor Atomic, by John Adams, in a way, covers the same subject, except that Adams is a baby boomer rather than from the Silent Generation (e.g. Colin Powell, Walter Mondale, Woody Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr., ElizabethTaylor, Elvis Presley as well as Glass/Wilson/Childs). That Adams opera probably won't be a canonic work, despite some early enthusiasm on my part.
Einstein's 4.5 hours was long but it was like a plane ride in that after a couple hours, the momentum started to accumulate and before I knew it, we were on our final, crazy, descent. Similarly, I didn't feel like climbing over my seat mates given the opera had no formal intermission (for a 4.5 hour production!).
Although I closely follow the San Francisco Giants, I was a boyhood fan of the Detroit Tigers and I may ultimately regret saying this, but I hope the Tigers win on Sunday. The spouse and I are going to the matinee of Einstein on the Beach tomorrow afternoon so a loss would let me watch what could be the final game on Monday.
Go Giants (sooner or later) and go Philip Glass...
...exhilarating revival...compelling lead performers...nonsensical yet alluring text...calming and sweetly mystical...exuberant and crazed... suited to current musical politics and social culture...the brilliant violinist Jennifer Koh...original, visionary and generous work...moments of ominous intensity...two trial scenes are highlights...dazzling choreography... if it were trimmed...
Act One opens with Train (23 minutes). Train sets the tone and pace of the show, as well as introduces the first musical theme. You’ll have a better idea after watching this scene of how your patience for EINSTEIN will hold up.
"There is talk of extending performances, maybe even into 2014, with cities like Melbourne, Australia; Los Angeles; Buenos Aires; and São Paulo, Brazil, under discussion, and perhaps Bahrain, Berlin and Paris."
'For those of us steeped in Lower Manhattan performing arts of the ’70s, “Einstein” represented in part a grand (and it turned out, more or less final) flowering of the warmly human collegiality of that time and place.'
'Although the instrumentation of the Glass Ensemble remains the same, the keyboards have grown in sophistication, replacing the endearing but reedy sounds of the original Farfisa electric organs. “We’ve sampled a Farfisa organ,” Mr. Glass said. “They exist as a sample.”'
"And there are plans to film the entire piece, with Mr. Wilson’s directorial involvement, in both 2-D and 3-D."
'But this is likely to be the final revival of “Einstein on the Beach” directly overseen by these two men. It is hard to see how it could be revived again without Mr. Wilson’s fastidious attention to detail.'