the CIVIL warS

the CIVIL warS

Robert Wilson: the CIVIL warS and After

Earlier this season Einstein on the Beach was revived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and once again it proved a critical and popular success.  Next year Einstein will also be seen at the Stuttgart Opera in a completely new production staged and designed by Achim Freyer, something you could have never envisioned when you conceived the work.  How do you feel about this?
I’m very excited.  In fact, it pleases me.  I’m curious about what he’ll do.  I’m also going to stage The Golden Windows here at BAM in the fall.  I’d like to do it in the opera house but they say it should be in the smaller theater.  We performed the piece in a big theater in Vienna and it looked beautiful, like a jewel in a huge dark space.  Harvey Lichtenstein is also talking about doing the Rome section of CIVIL warS in a couple of years.

It would seem that a considerable amount of future time is going to be spent restaging works from the past. 
It’s what they want.  I want to do new pieces.  Tamasaburo Bando, the Kabuki star, has asked me to do a St. Joan for him but I don’t know if it’s right.  He’s so noble and elegant and she was a peasant.

What about Arabian Nights, your next collaboration with Philip Glass? It’s an intriguing title.  Is there anything more than a title at this point?
That’s all, we haven’t talked about it.  I do know I want a carpet to fly.  I’ve always wanted to see a carpet fly on stage.

In our last interview, you spoke at length about your aborted production of Wagner’s Parsifal.  Is this project any closer to realization today?
It’s gone back and forth between a number of places.  Right now, it looks like Lyon might do it.  I had a very good relationship with the technical staff there and I think they could manage it.  There’s also the possibility of a production at Bayreuth in 1988 or 1989.  I spoke with the Wagners recently and asked them if they’d still want it if I did it in Lyon first.  They said they’d prefer it that way.  I think they may be a little afraid of working with me.  I’m also going to stage Gluck’s Alceste with Jessye Norman in Stuttgart in 1986 and Robert Brustein has asked me to do Euripides’ Alcestis at Harvard next year with Heiner and Laurie Anderson.8  I haven’t started working on it yet.  I have to start some time.  I need time off.  I need a vacation.  Time to study.  I haven’t had a day off in years.

Do you worry about burn out?  Do you ever wonder how long you can continue at this lunatic pace?
Yes.  It’s hell. (Pause) I don’t think it’s going to change.





8 Other upcoming projects include a film on the life of German industrialist Konrad Henkel, a staging of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande for La Scala, a possible film version of Tristan and Isolde with Jessye Norman and Pierre Boulez and a new opera about Christopher Columbus for the Columbian celebrations in 1992.