Robert Wilson, whose 1976 collaboration with Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach, galvanized audiences and changed the course of modern theatre, dance, music and performance art, is making his Metropolitan Opera debut directing a new production of Wagner's Lohengrin.
The production has its premiere Mar. 9, with additional performances scheduled for Mar. 13, 17, 21, 25 and 28 and April 2.
All performances are conducted by James Levine. The opening night cast includes hotter-than-hot soprano Deborah Voigt (who triumphed earlier this season in the Met's Ariadne auf Naxos) as the politically betrayed Elsa and tenor Ben Heppner as Lohengrin, the knight who comes to her defense.
Wilson is also the set designer for this production. Audiences can expect to see certain signature Wilson touches including stark, oversize images and an almost-hypnotizing use of color (in this case, lots of blue) and light.
Texas-born Wilson, 56, has long been regarded as one of the leading figures in the avant-garde theatre world (with such landmark '70s works as The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin and A Letter for Queen Victoria to his credit). In addition, he is no stranger to the world of opera. Among the operas he has designed and directed are Parsifal (Hamburg and Houston, 1991-92), The Magic Flute (Paris, 1991), Madama Butterfly (Paris, 1993), Bluebeard's Castle (Salzburg, 1995, and Zurich, 1996), Ewartung (Salzburg, 1995) and Pelleas and Melisande (Paris and Salzburg, 1997). Wilson also directed Alceste starring Jessye Norman (with Voigt in subsequent performances) a few seasons back at Chicago Lyric Opera.
Wilson's upcoming productions include Ibsen's Lady from the Sea (with Susan Sontag) opening in May in France and Italy.
Lohengrin has not been seen at the Met since the 1985-86 season, and is turning into a "hard to get" ticket (several performances are already sold out).
The Mar. 21 matinee performance of Lohengrin is a live radio broadcast scheduled for 12:30-5:05 ET (check your listings).
For tickets, call (212) 362-6000.
-- By Sean McGrath