The Robert Wilson/Philip Glass collaboration Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts has announced a 2012-2013 international tour. The revival, helmed by Wilson and Glass along with choreographer Lucinda Childs, marks the first full production in 20 years.
Aside from New York, Einstein on the Beach has never been seen in any of the cities currently on the tour, which comprises nine stops on four continents.
• Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon presents the world premiere at the Opera Berlioz Le Corum March 16—18, 2012.
• Fondazione I TEATRI di Reggio Emilia in collaboration with Change Performing Arts will present performances on March 24 & 25 at Teatro Valli.
• From May 4—13, 2012, the Barbican will present the first-ever UK performances of the work in conjunction with the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.
• The North American premiere, June 8—10, 2012 at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, as part of the Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, represents the first presentation in Canada.
• The Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM) 2012 Next Wave Festival will once again be home to the New York premiere, September 14—23, 2012, having presented the 1984 and 1992 iterations.
• Having never before been presented on the West Coast, the production will run October 26¬—28, 2012 at Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on the University of California, Berkeley campus.
• The National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) will present the first-ever Latin American performances November 9—11, 2012 at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes.
• Amsterdam’s De Nederlandse Opera/The Amsterdam Music Theatre will present performances at Het Muziektheater January 5—12, 2013.
• The tour is scheduled to conclude when Hong Kong Arts Festival presents three performances, March 6—8, 2013 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.
Einstein on the Beach was the first collaboration between Wilson and Glass, whose 75th birthday year the new production helps to celebrate. The work breaks all of the rules of conventional opera, including the relationship among the creators. Wilson devised the visual book—the structure and designs—at the same time Glass composed the music. Non-narrative in form, the work uses a series of powerful recurrent images as its main dramatic device shown in juxtaposition with abstract dance sequences created by Lucinda Childs. A long-term collaborator of Glass and Wilson, she choreographed the opera in 1984 and 1992 and was a principal performer in the original 1976 and both subsequent productions of the work. The opera includes spoken text by Childs, Christopher Knowles and Samuel M. Johnson.
The opera is structured in four interconnected acts and divided by a series of short scenes. Instead of a traditional orchestral arrangement, Glass chose to compose the work for the synthesizers, woodwinds and voices of The Philip Glass Ensemble. There are no traditional intervals in Einstein on the Beach, however the audience is invited to enter and exit at liberty during the performance.
Among the 2012-13 creative team and cast are celebrated young artists and performers. Helga Davis and Kate Moran, as the featured performers, have assumed the roles previously held by Sheryl Sutton and Lucinda Childs, respectively. The violinists Jennifer Koh and Antoine Silverman alternate as Einstein. Jasper Newell plays the Boy, and Charles Williams plays Mr. Johnson.
The production features the Lucinda Childs Dance Company: Ty Boomershine (Rehearsal Director), Katie Dorn, Katherine Fisher, Anne Lewis, Vincent McCloskey, Sharon Milanese, Patrick John O’Neill, Matthew Pardo, Lonnie Poupard Jr, Caitlin Scranton, Stuart N. Singer, Shakirah Stewart, Sarah Hillman and John Sorensen-Jolink.
The chorus includes sopranos Michèle A. Eaton, Lindsay Kesselman and Melanie Russell; mezzo-sopranos Hai-Ting Chinn, Kate Maroney and Solange Merdinian; tenors Philip Anderson, Tomás Cruz and John Kawa; baritone Gregory R. Purnhagen; and basses Joe Damon Chappel and Jason Charles Walker.
The Philip Glass Ensemble consists of Michael Riesman (Music Director, keyboards), Lisa Bielawa (soprano), David Crowell (alto saxophone, flute), Jon Gibson (soprano saxophone, flute), Mick Rossi (keyboards and Assistant Conductor) and Andrew Sterman (flute, piccolo, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone). (Riesman and Gibson have appeared in every performance of Einstein to date.)
In addition to Wilson (Director and Set & Lighting Designer), Glass (Composer) and Childs (Choreographer), the creative team includes Ann-Christin Rommen (Co-Director), Charles Otte (Staging Associate), Urs Schoenebaum (Lights), Carlos Soto (Costumes) and Campbell Young Associates: Luc Verschueren (Hair and Makeup).
Produced by Pomegranate Arts, Inc., the new production of Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts was commissioned by BAM; the Barbican, London; Cal Performances University of California, Berkeley; Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity; De Nederlandse Opera/The Amsterdam Music Theatre; Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Rousillon; and the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, which hosted technical rehearsals and early previews in January 2012.
The Byrd Hoffman Foundation originally presented Einstein on the Beach in 1976, first at the Festival d’Avignon in France, and ultimately, in the fall of that year, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. An international breakthrough for two of America’s most celebrated artists, the production, in turn, radically and indelibly broadened what audiences might expect from opera, theater or performance art. John Rockwell, who reviewed the 1976 world premiere for The New York Times, has called Einstein on the Beach “timeless” and “an experience to cherish for a lifetime.” The production’s only two revivals to date, in 1984 and 1992, proved equally enthralling to audiences and critics.