glass notes
The Portrait Trilogy in Australia

Being billed as a "world premiere,"  the Adelaide Festival is presenting the Glass Portrait Trilogy of "Einstein on the Beach," " Satyagraha," and "Akhnaten" over a three week period next month. 

I seemed to recall in "Music by Philip Glass" talk that there was planned a presentation of the Trilogy, designed to be seen in consecutive nights, in Germany in 1990.  I wondered if in fact it ever happened.  This NY Times article confirms that it did.

The interesting element in this equation is "Einstein."  With "Satyagraha" and "Akhnaten," the music, text, drama are essentially locked in place albeit in a somehwat abstract way. 

But "Einstein" is performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble, with Robert Wilson's set-direction-actors, Lucinda Childs' dancers, etc.  So when thought of as a traditional "opera" a.k.a just music scores that you rent, "Einstein" without Wilson and Childs isn't really Einstein-  well, I guess we don't really know what it is if it's just Glass' score with no text other than the sung numbers and solfege. 

In fact, "Einstein" was produced one time in the 1980s in Germany.  Michael Riesman went over to coach the musicians and advise.  From what I gather, it was just the Glass score with slow moving projected images moving across a screen on the stage.  That doesn't seem to me the dynamic and multilayered interesting Glass/Wilson/Childs version.  One would think then of "Einstein" as one thinks of Glass' "A Madrigal Opera."  A director can set any text or action to be set within or around Glass' score.  "A Madrigal Opera" is whatever kind of opera you want it to be. 

The "Einstien" tour that took place these last two years was hailed as the last time its original authors would present it for it then to be left to other directors, actors, companies to embrace it and reimagine it.  So what's happening in Australia will be in that spirit.

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