Seeing Einstein on the Beach was an excellent experience. I’ve loved Philip Glasse’s music for several years, listened to the soundtrack a bunch, but never thought much about seeing the opera. It’s 4.5 hours long and sounds like quite the commitment. But when a friend here in Berlin was able to connect me with a free ticket to the dress rehersal I jumped and said yes.
Walking into the auditorium was amazing. The performance had already started. One keyboard player was playing a constant series of low tone which filled the auditorium so nicely. Two singers on stage uttering random words with no perceivable time signature.
Watching it completes the picture of the entire work. The music plus seeing the singing, dancing, lighting, colors. There are so many layers of motion on stage that exist purely as movement over and over and over again with slight variation. I loved it.
Also impressive was watching the two keyboard players serve as conductors throughout the performance. I sat in the third row orchestra and was able to see this first hand. At different times one player would speak silently into a microphone giving time references to performers, while the other conducted the chorus in their endless counting.
Thinking further, we do plenty of tasks for 4.5 hours at a time: sitting at a desk at work, going out and sitting, eating, sleeping. So long as your engaged in the proper way (even if “vegging out”) you’re quite fine to stay put for 4.5 hours. Plus you can get up for bathroom breaks.
This trailer encompasses everything you should know about Einstein on the Beach. I totally agree when Philip Glass says “these kinds of pieces appeal to a younger audience because the language is fresh…why is the language still fresh 40 years later?” Reminds me of Star Trek.