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Thread: Einstein on the Beach

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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Default Einstein on the Beach

    On July 25, 1976, 43 years ago today, Philip Glass' landmark opera Einstein on the Beach premiered at the Festival d'Avignon.

    https://philipglass.com/compositions...GVIiXLEMfKkHnk

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

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    Senior Member Captainnumber36's Avatar
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    I first read this as Einstein on Bach then got less excited when I read the title properly. Is the Opera any good, I've never seen it or heard of it. I haven't checked out much glass in general.

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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Einstein on the BeachDirector and designer Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass, with choreographer Lucinda Childs, created the opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976. It has been hailed as one of the most revolutionary and visionary works of the late 20th century in the fields of music and theatre: "One of the truly pivotal artworks of our time," "a masterpiece," "an achievement for which the descriptor 'supreme' does not seem the least excessive," "among the most significant theatrical achievements of the entire post-World War II period."


    Einstein 2Einstein on the Beach, which lasts five hours, breaks with most of the conventions of traditional opera and defies easy description. There is no narrative plot; Wilson has said that audience members are free to leave and enter the theatre at will, and whenever they come in, they won't be lost since there is no story to follow. There is no traditional orchestra; the Philip Glass Ensemble, a group of electric keyboards, winds, and percussion provides the music. There are no operatic soloists in the traditional sense; a chorus sings a text made up entirely of numerals and solfège syllables. The only "character" is a violinist dressed as Einstein, whose solos punctuate the proceedings. A company of dancers and actors provide the scenic action, and actors deliver spoken monologues. The opera takes place on Wilson's spectacular set, which is sometimes representational and sometimes abstract.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

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    Yes I was at the UK premier of this opera, it’s very slick. Very white note.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-25-2019 at 15:44.

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    Senior Member Captainnumber36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    Einstein on the BeachDirector and designer Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass, with choreographer Lucinda Childs, created the opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976. It has been hailed as one of the most revolutionary and visionary works of the late 20th century in the fields of music and theatre: "One of the truly pivotal artworks of our time," "a masterpiece," "an achievement for which the descriptor 'supreme' does not seem the least excessive," "among the most significant theatrical achievements of the entire post-World War II period."


    Einstein 2Einstein on the Beach, which lasts five hours, breaks with most of the conventions of traditional opera and defies easy description. There is no narrative plot; Wilson has said that audience members are free to leave and enter the theatre at will, and whenever they come in, they won't be lost since there is no story to follow. There is no traditional orchestra; the Philip Glass Ensemble, a group of electric keyboards, winds, and percussion provides the music. There are no operatic soloists in the traditional sense; a chorus sings a text made up entirely of numerals and solfège syllables. The only "character" is a violinist dressed as Einstein, whose solos punctuate the proceedings. A company of dancers and actors provide the scenic action, and actors deliver spoken monologues. The opera takes place on Wilson's spectacular set, which is sometimes representational and sometimes abstract.
    Sounds like Glass is trying too hard to be unique, but I could be wrong.

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    It’s not so unique, you know there are shades of Stockhausen’s Stimmung in there, for example, and Lamont Young.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-25-2019 at 19:59.

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    It would be nice to expand this into a general discussion of minimalism. There’s a course on minimalism in London starting in September, it’s slightly inconvenient for me but I’m considering going, partly because I find the music particularly strange and unattractive, boring. I must be missing something.

    Re Glass the way his music is so polished and harmonious really repels me. It seems so unbelievably vacuous. Here and elsewhere.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-25-2019 at 15:50.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    I upset our resident Wagner expert Woodduck a bit when I called Einstein a Parsifal for the 20th century. But I think the differences between the two really do reflect some of the fundamental differences between 19th and 20th century western culture.

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    Robert Wilson made it bearable.

    There was another one after it which I also saw, about Gandhi, I can’t remember the name.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-25-2019 at 15:57.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Not a work I take can take seriously. The music is very amateurish. Here is a preview.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTn1lt4zIvA
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    the term "old and in the way' comes to mind after reading teh replies here....
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I upset our resident Wagner expert Woodduck a bit when I called Einstein a Parsifal for the 20th century. But I think the differences between the two really do reflect some of the fundamental differences between 19th and 20th century western culture.
    I couldn't have been too upset, since I don't remember you saying that. Now I'm just wondering what the **** you meant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Robert Wilson made it bearable.

    There was another one after it which I also saw, about Gandhi, I can’t remember the name.
    I think you are referring to Satyagraha

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZf34B8SImo

    I gave up after a few minutes. Perhaps I shouldn't have.

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    One of the great 20th century artworks, a tremendous masterpiece and a high point in stagecraft. Wilson and Glass worked very closely in making this, to the extent that it's hard for me to imagine them being separated - as much as I love the music by itself, the way it pairs with Wilson's visuals is an astonishing effect. In one respect it's menacing - Wilson reduces typical and even mundane activity to exaggerated clowning with the purpose of both inflating and destroying meaning - but it's also deeply empathetic by virtue of not only the performances (watch them sweat during the field dances) but the sheer length. Yes, we are all insignificant and even archetypal, but, as the bus driver says, "Everything must have an ending except my love for you". It might be one of the most moving conclusions in anything ever made, and a beautiful expression of what makes not being dead so appealing.

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