On October 11, 12, and 13 the L.A. Opera is presenting a spectacular operatic event... for these three performances only, we will be able to see the final incarnation of the legendary opera,Einstein on the Beach. I must confess that, opera fan that I am, I have never seen this legendary work... so I am as excited as anyone about this upcoming event. Many people have told me that when it first appeared in 1976, Einstein changed forever the image of opera. I have read some reviews which described it as "visionary," "magical," and "the musical event of the year." The way that it was described to me was as a monumental work which breaks all the narrative rules in favor of a series of dreamlike tableaus propelled by a hypnotic score. Each performance lasts approximately four hours and 30 minutes. It is a non-linear, non-narrative operatic event in four acts, in English.There are no intermissions, but viewers can leave and re-enter quietly as desired, and concession stands will be open in the lobby for food and drink. I happened to spend a few minutes on Friday evening with Placido Domingo, the L.A. Opera's General Director, at the Broad Stage production of a Spanish-language production of Shakespeare's Henry the Eighth, and he told me that he hopes Einstein will bring in many new audience members who have never before come to the opera.
I understand that these three performances will be the final time that director/designer Robert Wilson, composer Philip Glass, and choreographer Lucinda Childs will collaborate on this masterpiece. It is the final North American performance of an international tour that began in 2012. Placido says, "It isn't like anything we have ever done before. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will be resonating with a fabulous experience." The opera is directed by co-creator Robert Wilson, who also designed the set and lighting. The production features the Lucinda Childs Dance Company in abstract dance sequences and the Philip Glass Ensemble conducted by music director Michael Riesman. The cast is led by feaured performers Helga Davis and Kate Moran, as well as solo violinist Jennifer Koh as Einstein. It is being prsented in collaboration with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA).
I expect that everyone will walk away from the performance with a different interpretation of the avant-garde production. Robert Wilson himself wrote that "I think you shouldn't look for a message. It's a piece where you can get lost - the way that you can get lost in a novel. You freely associate with things you hear and things you see." When you need to stretch your legs, go to the lobby and check out the Einstein exhibit. You will remember that Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was one of the world's foremost scientists and public figures of the 20th century. He revolutionized our views of time and space, matter and light, gravitation and the universe. The Einstein Paper Project at Caltech is engaged in one of the most ambitious scholarly publishing ventures undertaken in the history of science. There are three installations from them in the lobby during the presentation of the opera. The exhibition includes twelve large portraits of Albert Einstein created by noted photographer Herman Landshoff, taken at the scientist's last abode in Princeton, New Jersey. Einstein was a visiting scientist at Caltech during three winter terms in the early 1930s, and the second installation presents nine large panels that incorporate collages of original documents relating to Einstein's activities while at Caltech. Einstein played the piano and the violin, and had wide-ranging correspondence with major figures in European and U.S. cultural life. A third installation presents a selection of archival documents, images and texts on music and musicians.
So it is apparent that this operatic evening will challenge the way you think, hear and see. All to the good... we all need such a challenge in our humdrum life... and Einstein On The Beach offers such a challenge.
See you there. Call 213-972-8001 for tickets and info.
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