Grand Théâtre Genève
Direction: Daniele Finzi Pasca – Composer: Philip Glass
Einstein on the Beach is an opera in four acts (framed and connected by five “knee plays” or intermezzos), composed by Philip Glass and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson who also collaborated with Glass on the work’s libretto. The opera eschews traditional narrative in favor of a formalist approach based on structured spaces laid out by Wilson in a series of storyboards. The music was written “in the spring, summer and fall of 1975”.
Overall, the music assigned to Einstein demonstrates a circular process, a repeating cycle that constantly delays resolution. This process uses both additive and subtractive formulas. The three main scenes within the opera—”Train”, “Trial”, and “Field/Spaceship”—allude to Einstein’s hypotheses about his theory of relativity and his unified field theory. Specifically, themes within the opera allude to nuclear weapons, science, and AM radio.