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Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach made quite a splash when it premiered in 1976, and in 2012 a new production went on tour, captured here on film at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The original staging was directed by Robert Wilson and choreographed by Lucinda Childs, who reunited with Glass for this production. It was extraordinarily avant garde in its time; has it worn well? Generally yes – audiences are more acclimatised to Glass’s highly organised and structured music, which he describes as ‘autodidactic’. He says: ‘The piece teaches you how to watch it (and) to hear it. It’s a state of attention.’ At over four hours of exploration of myth and timelessness, plus alternative ways of envisaging space, I must admit that I veered between hypnosis and headache. But it’s a taut and precisely expressed work on every level, despite its lack of traditional subject matter and form. One drawback is that the last 40 years have seen a considerable change in staging effects, and I imagine that Wilson would have incorporated some more cutting-edge techniques if creating the work now.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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