Einstein on the Beach

The career-making performance collaboration between Philip Glass and Robert Wilson opens at BAM.

by Nick Hallett


“We thought it was a joke,” recalls composer Philip Glass about the moment in 1976 when he and the director Robert Wilson learned that their career-making performance collaboration, Einstein on the Beach, would appear at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. “Though artistically, we knew what we had.” So did choreographer Jerome Robbins, an early champion of the piece, on whose recommendation the Met ended up making the unlikely decision to present the five-hour, intermission-less opus. Its sound, staging, and design lacked allegiance to anything preceding it, and Glass and Wilson each went on to forge other distinctive works. This month sees them teaming once again to remount Einstein (above), which bows September 14 for its American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (through September 23).

Photo: Lucie Jansch