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How does one represent brilliance; it is easy to trace the lines of brilliance through narrative. Good (and bad) pieces have emerged doing the work of biography, oscillating between the less than miraculous Jobs to Paul Schrader’s seductive and experimental Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. However, it is hard to recreate the timbre that imparts the moment of epiphany, the elation of discovery that is at the center of genius.  Performed only three times thus far, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s seminal 1976 opera, Einstein on the Beach echoes that sentiment.

With no driving plot, the opera plots Albert Einstein’s persona through interlocking motifs in a matrix of lyrical permutations, wicking away the dramatic heaviness that characterizing the genre to become something like tone poem and performance art. Cradled in the envelope of Wilson’s rarified aesthetic, Lucinda Childs‘ subtle choreography, the poetic dictations and enumerations, and the torrent of minimalist orchestration dovetail precisely in the four acts and intervening ‘Knee Plays.’ While oblique in content and abstruse in meaning, the opera does not fail to sound a sense of wonder in the natural world, the ecstasy of the human connection.

For those curious, a recording of the performance at its revival at the Théâtre du Châtelet is available on CultureBox until July 7th.