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Notes from Kristy: On Einstein, Generosity and Gratitude

We’re all still on a bit of an emotional high around here after a weekend of Einstein on the Beach, the images it evoked and the sense of artistic community it invoked here in our city. Seeing how the Friday night LA Opera audience responded so explosively and passionately as the curtain dropped was deeply moving, and hosting the three creators of the work here at Royce Hall the next day elicited a moment of profound gratitude and I thought it appropriate to share in this space the same message we shared with those in attendance Saturday.

When thinking about what to say about the current production of Einstein on the Beach, my mind moves immediately to the sheer fact and miraculous force of three artists: Robert Wilson, Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs. Though considering each of them makes it even more challenging to succinctly write something in an attempt to anchor what this work is, and why it has been so acutely resonant and impacting for those who have experienced it. I tend to think it is because of the towering generosity of each of them, the unassuming persistence of vision they embody, and the profound enrichment of multiple art forms through their uniquely expressed artistic genius – individually, and in this case, collectively.

The scale of Einstein On The Beach both in its physical and conceptual dimension, is staggering and permeates everything contained in it — from Glass’s music, Wilson’s direction and design, and Lucinda Child’s choreography. The libretto by Christopher Knowles is elemental to the work and a bedrock for Wilson’s direction. It gives rise to the structure underpinning the piece, and informs a profound delivery through the immense detail which is carried from each of the performers. Akin to a monumental dreamscape, I cannot help but wonder what it must feel like for these artists to look at it now, and recall the time of its inception.

If I then consider the work in relation to being an almost spiritual portrait of Albert Einstein, or if I ponder the culture of possibility that surrounded them all at the time of its original making, or the inspiring influence on successive artists (even if they had never actually seen it), or if I consider again what it actually took from everyone involved to bring this particular production to life again now in the 21st Century, I am left somewhere beyond words.

Which is perhaps entirely fitting. A monumental dreamscape that attains timelessness as a work of art is best not described, but rather gratefully received.

Instead of offering my illuminations, I want to instead express my thanks. To the artists themselves, and importantly, to team at Pomegranate Arts who have produced the production of Einstein on the Beach. Having worked for many years with them, I have been a direct witness to the dedication and integrity they have applied at every turn.

I want to thank the LA Opera for bringing Einstein on the Beach, finally to Los Angeles and into the full scope of their institution. We have thoroughly enjoyed a remarkable collaboration involving our many departments and staff members, and I want to thank all of you, your supporters and your Board members, and most especially Christopher Koelsch for that very first phone call well over a year ago, where we began the process of hatching a plan and making it stick. Bravo!

And Bravo to the staff, Board, members and supporters of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA as well. Without you, none of these seemingly impossible projects and initiatives, would become possible.

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