Einstein on the Beach  

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Einstein on the Beach is an opera that premiered on July 25, 1976 at the Avignon Festival in France, scored and written by Philip Glass and designed and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson. It also contains writings by Christopher Knowles, Samuel M. Johnson and Lucinda Childs. Einstein on the Beach is described by Glass as an "Opera in four acts for ensemble, chorus and soloists".

This is Glass's first and longest opera score, taking approximately five hours (a little under three and a half hours on CD) to complete, with no intermission. Given the length of the opera the audience is free to enter and leave as they desire.

Einstein's musical score became the first in a loosely related thematic trilogy, followed by Satyagraha (1980) and Akhnaten (1983). These three operas were described by Glass as "portrait" operas that portray men whose personal vision transformed the thinking of their times through the power of ideas rather than by military force.


Two "complete" recordings of the opera have been made: the first in 1978, released on the Tomato label (TOM-4-2901) in 1979, and later on CBS Masterworks followed by Sony Classical (both M4K 38875); the second in 1993, released that same year on the Nonesuch label (79323). The 1978 recording was held to 160 minutes in order to fit onto four LP records, i.e., the opening scene's repeats were considerably shortened. The 1993 recording encompassed 190 minutes, freed by the technology of the compact disc, although it was released on three CDs instead of the original's four. It is worth noting that the original instrumentation was revised for the 1993 recording, most notably the replacement of the Farfisa organ.

Michael Riesman conducted both recordings. In 1978, Lucinda Childs, Sheryl Sutton, Paul Mann, and Samuel M. Johnson performed the opera's texts, with Philip Glass Ensemble performer Iris Hiskey taking the soprano solo. In 1993 Childs and Sutton repeated their roles, while Gregory Dolbashian and Jasper McGruder replaced Mann and the late Mr. Johnson's roles respectively, and Jeremy Montemarano voiced the role of "The Boy;" Schuman sang the soprano role. Most of the participants in the Nonesuch recording had performed in Einstein on the Beach during its 1992 world tour. A 77-minute highlights CD from the 1984 Brooklyn Academy of Music performances, accompanied by a DVD documentary, was released by Philip Glass's personal label Orange Mountain Music in early September 2012, and an extended recording, 217 minutes long, was released at the same time but available only by download from the iTunes Store. In October 2013, Pacifica Radio released an two disc set of a 1976 interview with Glass and Wilson conducted at The Kitchen and excerpts from a rehearsal of some excerpts from the opera, also performed at The Kitchen on March 19, 1976.

The violin part for the work has been performed by Robert Brown (in the live 1976 production), Paul Zukofsky (in the 1979 recording), Tison Street (in the live 1984 production), Gregory Fulkerson (in the live 1992 production and 1993 recording) and an interchanging performance of Jennifer Koh and Antoine Silverman during the 2012/13 production.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Einstein on the Beach" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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