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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Einstein opera succeeds despite hitches

Five-hour opera manages to overcome stuck glass elevator

As a huge fan of Philip Glass, I have been following the saga of Einstein with interest, and was glad to see that Neil Smith

Not only did Friday's performance at the Barbican in London start late, but there was an unscheduled intermission and some of its theatrical effects had to be abandoned.

Yet, according to the Evening Standard, "the opera's magic proved sturdy enough that pauses... failed to break the spell".

First staged in 1976, Einstein on the Beach is an abstract, plotless piece featuring music, dance and spoken text that, according to the Barbican, "breaks all of the rules of conventional opera".  I like the summation  in The Independent. "If you're looking for 'meaning', this is a monumentally boring show," wrote Michael Church. "But if you just say yes, it's intermittently glorious."

The actor who plays Einstein (pictured) does not utter a word throughout -- but he does play the violin.

The current production is directed by original co-creator Robert Wilson, 70, who took to the stage himself on Friday to apologise for the delays and advise the audience to "fasten their seatbelts".

At one point a musician on stage was heard to repeatedly request "more light", while at another stage a glass elevator appeared to have become stuck mid-air.

A Barbican spokeswoman attributed the difficulties to "a mechanical failure in the flying system" and said two subsequent performances had taken place without a hitch.

Part of the London 2012 Festival, the production continues until 13 May.  Hopefully without hitches.