I know how it seems: the Wagner bicentennial is officially over and so I bring back another trope: Einstein on the Beach. That wasn’t the plan, but I’m happy to go with the flow.
This past Tuesday’s performance of Einstein on the Beach at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet was simulcast via live stream. I watched along with my fellow Beachers. (If that’s not yet a term, I’ll gladly take credit.) I watched intermittently, anyway, as the stream occasionally crashed for me because of bandwidth – heavy traffic – and the weather around here has lately been horrible for internet connections.
Regular readers know of my love for this work – not just the piece, but the experience of it. I proudly count myself among the fortunate few who’ve attended a performance, all things considered. (I love Wagner, but his works are performed more than one tour every 15-20 years. The rarity is of course compounded by the fact that a full video recording has never been released.) And, as I described here, seeing Einstein was one of my favorite experiences, musical or otherwise.
For those who may have missed the stream, the tour, or both – and for those who may want to relive a fraction of the experience – the stream has been archived and made available for viewing until May 7. I highly suggest taking 4.5+ hours of your time and giving it a go.
A few brief thoughts on the stream:
• It was a great reminder, but it cannot live up to the real thing. (Of course.) This is partly because of the camera work. The various close-ups and angles take you out of your seat, as it were. Part of the genius of the work is getting lost in both the forest and the trees simultaneously – musically and visually. Large scenes move glacially and seemingly small actions are monumental. With the camera closing in on various characters and/or actions, it diminishes the larger scope some. For example, when the prisoner screams during “Trial II,” the close-up bars the viewer from seeing the judge’s simultaneous reaction – you only see it afterwards, but not as it happens.
• That said, some of these different – and unique! – angles help to give a new perspective if you’ve seen the performance live. For instance, I sat in the fifth row or thereabouts, so I lacked the aerial view of the two dance scenes. (The aerial view is preferable for them, although I had a great seat for the “Train” scene’s diagonal dance…)
• It was wonderful to once again enjoy Kate Moran‘s phrasing during “Trial II.” Simply wonderful. She’s so nuanced with compelling diction.
• “Building”! This scene gets short shrift on the audio recordings. What a delight to hear it full-bore. Andrew Sterman OWNS it. (Thank you, Mr. Sterman.)
• Composer Nico Muhly’s live-tweeting of the broadcast is a humorous companion.
I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity if even the slightest bit interested.
WATCH the stream HERE. You have until May 7.
This blog’s Einstein archive is here.