Could it get some wind for the sailboat?
January 14, 2014 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Five kneeplays, four acts, no intermission. Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach, courtesy of Culturebox on FranceTV. This is from the 2012 Pomegranate Arts production. For more, there's Great Performances at the Met's production of Satyagraha. Previously.
posted by a person of few words (43 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Although I never saw it in the 70s or 80s, I was lucky enough to see it in SF in 2012 and in LA in 2013, and it's just incomparable. I'm glad it was recorded because Wilson & Glass have said they're not going to remount it, so this is it, friends.
posted by janey47 at 3:26 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


That Satyagraha link is just be a trailer for the actual performance. I'm hoping that it's fixable so that my dashed hopes can be restored.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:36 PM on January 14


That Satyagraha link is just be a trailer for the actual performance.

Bother. I had such hopes when I saw "Full HD", and 1:30, that's an hour and a half, sounds about right, yes? I'll learn to watch, then post. If someone comes up with a link to the full thing, please post.
posted by a person of few words at 3:55 PM on January 14


I've long been a fan of the soundtrack, but have never seen this on stage. Looking forward to watching it in full.

Also, oh god, those poor actors.... Imagine having to memorize and perform 4 hours of incomprehensible gibberish....
posted by schmod at 4:05 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Oh. I see. This must be the opera that the Cylon Hybrids were writing....
posted by schmod at 4:06 PM on January 14


There's something so crazy about clicking on a video and getting the time code 00:00:01/04:32:52. I could in fact watch it all tonight if I really wanted to, but I don't think that's going to happen. I kind of can't imagine actually seeing it live.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:07 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


The funny thing about seeing it live is how fast it goes. The first time we saw it, we were all prepared to sneak quietly out for our "self made intermissions" as needed. We didn't move a muscle and neither did anyone in our view.
posted by janey47 at 4:09 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I particularly like that it's been going on for several minutes already and the audience is still filing in. It's like, this opera is happening whether you're here to see it or not. It's a force of nature, and the fact that there are spectators is largely irrelevant to it. EotB is larger than you, puny humans.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:10 PM on January 14


My wife, whom you know as DiscourseMarker, thinks my interest in Philip Glass is bizarre and inexplicable, and takes great delight in mocking it, even though I haven't really listened to him much in the last decade. She was in the living room just now and I came out and said "There's a Philip Glass post on Metafilter. I'm going to close the office door now." She didn't say anything, but I'm pretty sure I could hear her eyes rolling.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:17 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I saw the Met Satyagraha in the HD simulcast in theatres. It was the most stunning and compelling opera performance I have ever seen (and I've been to many operas, both live and broadcast). People who are expecting a traditional narrative might feel a little adrift, however.
posted by matildaben at 4:17 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


We're at 22 minutes in and the 1234 chorus that I think of as the essence and constant refrain of the opera has just begun, which gives you some sense of the massive scale of the thing. I'm pretty sure I couldn't sit for 22 uninterrupted minutes with my hands hovering just over a table, never mind the rest of it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:22 PM on January 14


30 minutes in. A woman prances with a stick while a boy, high atop some scaffolding, holds a glowing cube. It's not clear to me if the safety line very visibly attached to his back is part of the staging or literally just a safety line.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:32 PM on January 14


I predict that the next 4 hours of my life are gone. My god, what have you done to me Metafilter?
posted by Yowser at 4:39 PM on January 14


My wife just yelled at me, "Either turn that down or close the door more." I have closed the door more.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:42 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Was this recorded in 2012, or 7 Jan 2014? The page doesn't make it clear. I watched it live, or "live", on the 7th when it was released, but I tuned in a bit late - it seemed like everyone I followed on twitter was suddenly talking about Einstein on the Beach and it took me a while to figure out why. Then I joined the tweeting. Watching it with a bunch of strangers on the internet felt oddly similar to seeing it with strangers at the theater.
posted by moonmilk at 5:02 PM on January 14


THIS COURT OF COMMON PLEAS IS NOW IN SESSION.
*Pours out a beaker of sand for my dead homies*
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:07 PM on January 14


Tempted?
posted by moonmilk at 5:13 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I understand David Fincher has optioned the EotB rights with an eye toward making a gritty crime drama, with Mark Ruffalo as Einstein and Helen Mirren as the Women Who Shouts No.

In 2015, it will get some wind for the sailboat.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:19 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Yay! I missed this when it streamed live (yes, it was live 7 Jan 2014) and am thrilled that I get another chance.

Satyagraha was the first opera I saw at the Met and one of the big reasons I have been back so many times.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:21 PM on January 14


Oh, and to be clear: the production premiered in 2012 and has been touring.

The OP link is a performance of this production of the opera and was recorded (and streamed live) on 7 Jan 2014.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:25 PM on January 14


Thanks for the clarification, mountmccabe!
posted by moonmilk at 5:26 PM on January 14


OK, I'm a third of the way in and bailing for this evening. Thanks for the post!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:31 PM on January 14


The funny thing about seeing it live is how fast it goes.

Yeah, that was my experience, too. I've rarely seen anything that held me in such rapt attention from whoa to go.
posted by yoink at 5:55 PM on January 14


If you don't have the hours to spare, here's a clip of a different performance of a lovely conclusion (spoiler alert implied).

But if your just here for the drones, The Bed is a haunting piece.
posted by ovvl at 6:04 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


The Tomato box set is one of my best recent thrift store finds, but I've only listened to it once. I'll be watching this over lunch break this week and the next.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:07 PM on January 14


I'm about to schedule a block of time to watch this, like the Glass' Disney opera. Normally, opera is not well served by audio only recordings, but EotB is pretty gripping even without the visuals. I'm really excited to finally see it.

That said, I was listening to a new recording of Galileo Galilei by Glass today, and I've followed most of his recent works. This might be a completely unfair statement (who I am to tell him what to do with his time), but I feel pretty comfortable saying that Philip Glass has written too much music. I say that with no tinge of irony regarding his predilection for repetition, either.
posted by lownote at 6:47 PM on January 14


I made this and I'm not sorry. OK a little.
posted by moonmilk at 6:52 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


This is absolutely wonderful. I saw this at BAM in September of 2012 after being acquainted with the work since senior year of high school. My AP Art History teacher (in 2003) told me about it because he knew I liked out there material. I downloaded one of the recordings released of the music, and was blown away. It was also a great thing to turn on to get a reaction out of people in my dorm freshman year of college, especially the Knee Plays. I never really thought I'd be missing out on not seeing it live (for some reason), but good fortune came knocking when Pomegranate came along to restage it and coming back to BAM for it.

Now, I cannot get that performance out of my head, and seeing it on stage is a monumentally vital part of the experience. I wrote on my Facebook timeline this about it: "I cannot get EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH out of my mind... it demands so much from the performers and the audience.... requires a certain amount of devotion, of faith.... of where everyone involved on both sides of the proscenium... it is greater than yourself, yet incomplete and unfathomable without you... Einstein said that greatest thing in the universe is the mysterious.... it is the mark of all great art and science.... a true rendering of the spiritual in shapes and gestures and tone, the melodies that manifest from rhythms sources from pulsars in deep space... of bodies that become vessels of pure semiotics... a direction and a line... a point and a note... the word in a syllable... scaling toward impossible columns (axis mundi)... i generate this edifice in my head... i perform calculus and roll dice. the awakening of the modern soul... but it is night out now, a time of tranquility... there is science between us... there is silence between us...."

I wonder if there is any way I can pull the streaming video and save it to my computer. DownloadHelper on Firefox doesn't seem to work with it, and I would love to have it for perpetuity before it gets taken down in July.
posted by theartandsound at 9:10 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I've just read the other thread about contrarianism and I promise this is not a gratuitous example of that.

I saw Einstein on the Beach in May 2012 at the Barbican in London and didn't love it that much though I should say that the performances were amazing, and the standing ovations it received very much deserved. I tend to think that it's not a work that's aged that well - I wonder whether we now have other (EDM) sources of abstract music and so the impact of four and a half hours in which you are supposed to give yourself over to the flow of the music is lost a little.

I should also say that a) EotB was written the year I was born, so whatever I think about initial impact and reputation of the piece should be taken with some salt and b) the particular performance that I saw was the day after my football team had just won a league championship and I may have been dealing with some post-celebration grumpiness. I did need the self-service intervals, in which I threw espresso down my neck. I put some fuller thoughts on a blog (that I've since abandoned) at the time.

Satyagraha, on the other hand, I saw at the ENO, and I loved loved loved it. I don't watch much opera at all, but I'm waiting for a production of Akhenaten to complete the set and then I think I can tick the Phillip Glass Opera box and move on. My favourite Glass thing that I've seen was neither of these, but a performance of Itaipu by the Crouch End Festival Chorus in 2006 that was just more fun than you ever would have imagined a set of songs about a Brazilian dam could be.
posted by calico at 1:06 AM on January 15


The best part is where the input sequence is completed by the dancers and suddenly they've hacked the stage to play pong and snake.
posted by Theta States at 8:06 AM on January 15


I tend to think that it's not a work that's aged that well

I think its rapturous reception all over the world by large audiences, many of whom have sought out repeat performances, kinda disproves that claim. I mean, it may well be that for you, personally, it's a piece that no longer holds a charm it may once have had, but it's demonstrably untrue that it's a piece that no longer speaks to contemporary audiences.
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on January 15


Fair enough, if there were a vote amongst audience members doubtless I'd lose. I knew the music before I went but hadn't seen it staged, and wasn't blown away by it and wondered whether some of that was because the ideas it presents are no longer as novel. I'm not alone in suggesting that, but you're right, the popularity of the renewal speaks for itself.
posted by calico at 10:18 AM on January 15


I came home from work today and walked downstairs to say hello to mr hippybear and heard something playing on the stereo and looked at him and said "Einstein On The Beach?" and he said, "Oh, didn't you see the MetaFilter post?"

I had missed it entirely.

So excited to get to see this again. Flew to Toronto to see it in summer 2012. Sat in full rapture for 4.5 hours. Have not been able to get it out of my mind since I saw it. A completely transporting experience.

Obviously I'm going to have to research how I might capture this...
posted by hippybear at 5:10 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Oh, someone else already captured it and set it free in the bay. Yay!
posted by hippybear at 5:47 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Aaaarghhh matey!!! :-D

I was trying to figure out how to do it myself, but apparently the site uses a kind of DRM'd container format, and the file was not allowed to be downloaded.
posted by theartandsound at 12:29 PM on January 16


So thrilled to see this on Metafilter.

I am an employee the international tour of EoB, and was present in Paris during the 10-camera HD shoot at le Chatelet. We on the crew are so excited that this piece has finally had a full filming, for our own sake as much as for the public's. Many of us working behind the scenes have never had a chance to see it in any detail, and have never really been successful in explaining this thing to our parents. We all watched the monitors backstage with rapt attention during the evenings of filming- it's even more hypnotic than I had hoped. (and there are 3 staged moments when I appear on stage with a headset!)

I find Trial/Prison exquisitely imbalanced, Bed makes my soul soar, and Knee Play 5 had me in tears. I am totally entranced by Robert Wilson's staging and specificity, and I never thought I'd get the chance to see it from anything but a side profile view.

We've been told that "The Jan 7 performance footage will then be cleaned and color corrected to be streamed one additional time on Mezzo (Date TBD) and will then be available to stream on Culturebox for 4 months until May 7, 2014." I think a DVD will be available for purchase after that.
posted by alight at 12:42 PM on January 17 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the insider info, alight! Do you have a blog or anything like that about your experiences? I love that kind of thing, like Helga Davis's Notes from the Beach.
posted by moonmilk at 7:32 PM on January 17


I think a DVD will be available for purchase after that.

*squeeee* ohpleaseohpleaseohplease
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the only thing I don't like (and maybe this is just me being difficult) is the cutting to certain parts of the stage and the like. I know it would be expensive as hell to film (most likely requiring a performance with no audience and thus no money coming in), but I'd prefer just a single static wide shot of the whole thing, as wide as you can get it without sacrificing clarity. I say this, because something like EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH on stage is set in a way that allows your eyes to wander across the entire canvas during each segment, especially during the more busy segments (and more importantly the Dances).

Nevertheless, the DVD will definitely be a must-purchase item. And I pray that this run isn't the last time it is staged. If I had my way, I'd see this once a year.
posted by theartandsound at 10:37 PM on January 18


I'd prefer just a single static wide shot of the whole thing, as wide as you can get it without sacrificing clarity.

What I'd want is a very very high quality carefully lit and framed single static shot 3D filming which transformed a movie theater into a stage production you are sitting and watching like it is happening right in front of you.

There are moments in Pina which transform the movie theater into a live stage production, and they are amazing. Likewise with U23D, there are moments when the movie theater becomes a concert at a stadium from the audience.

I wish we had more of this kind of thing.

(When I saw the show in Toronto, we had 3rd row seats. Close enough to see the beads of sweat on the dancers. I don't know how to duplicate that kind of experience in a 3D movie, but it was pretty amazing. Certainly filming from the 10th or 15th row, where you get the full proscenium on a movie screen, would satisfy nicely.)
posted by hippybear at 8:44 AM on January 19


I just really want to thank a person of few words for posting this. I've dipped a toe into it a few times since it was posted, and found a copy for download and grabbed that, but today is the first time I'm really sitting here and listening/watching it.

I'm nearly in tears. It was so powerful in person, and this filming seems to be equally powerful for me.

Thanks so much. This is a treasure. Glass and Wilson said this would never be filmed, but here it is, and I am so happy to have it. I'd obsessed over this opera since the early 80s, I was shocked beyond belief to actually be seeing it in person a couple of years ago, and now I have a keepsake I can revisit for the rest of my life. I hate the term "bucket list", but seeing this live fulfilled a life-long, barely-able-to-comprehend-it-was-actually-happening yearning for me.

And now this.

I owe you a beer or a coffee or something, and long non-creepster hug. Because this *snif* *wipe* fuck yeah.
posted by hippybear at 12:23 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I want to thank the wizard who posted the rip of the stream. I'm pretty handy with figuring out work-arounds, but this was above my knowledge base....
posted by theartandsound at 7:34 PM on January 19


Interview Magazine: Philip Glass
posted by homunculus at 3:06 PM on February 7


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