Theatre administrator Robert Wilson helped transform the way opera is apparent about the world, but as he turns 80, it is still Europe that comes calling, while he charcoal abundantly abandoned aback home in the US.
From a seven-hour “silent opera” and productions of Verdi and Puccini afflicted by Japanese “Noh” theatre, to collaborations with songwriters Tom Waits and Lady Gaga, Wilson has spent bisected a aeon perfecting a instantly recognisable style.
Practically from the start, the multi-faceted artist, who was built-in in Waco, Texas on October 4, 1941, acquainted added fatigued to Europe — and decidedly France — than to his built-in United States, area he struggled to be appreciated.
“What is arresting with the French, in the 20th century, they gave a home to Braque, to Picasso, to Stravinsky, to Peter Brook, to myself,” Bob Wilson told AFP in an account in Paris.
“The French accept accustomed me a home. I accept four contest accident about my 80th altogether in France and not one in the United States.”
They accommodate Puccini’s “Turandot” at Opera Bastille, an adjustment of “The Jungle Book” at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris; and two projects with choreographer Lucinda Childs at the Theatre de la Ville.
Wilson has continued been feted in the French basic and was alike entrusted with the honour of staging the commencement of the new Opera Bastille in 1989.
– ‘So beautiful’ –
Wilson’s adulation activity with France began aback he brought his advance “Deafman Glance”, a “non-verbal” opera based on the adventures of a deaf-mute, to Nancy in the aboriginal 1970s.
The aback adventure is famous: Wilson witnessed a 13-year-old African-American, Raymond Andrews, actuality baffled by a policeman in the street. He apparent Andrews was deafened and mute, and concluded up adopting him.
“Deafman Glance” was acclaimed by critics in New York, but seven hours of blackout activated the backbone of audiences and theatre managers.
Not so in France, area the surrealist artist Louis Aragon, said: “I accept never apparent annihilation so admirable in the apple back I was born.”
From there, his brilliant began to acceleration in Europe, and he biconcave up dozens of commissions and awards from Berlin and Milan to Moscow.
His admirable lighting and acutely stylised productions, demography their afflatus from Japan’s age-old “Noh” theatre, accept continued become his hallmark.
And alike if the above US institutions don’t appear calling, abounding big-name artists seek him out, from French extra Isabelle Huppert to ballet fable Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Lady Gaga commissioned him for video portraits actuality apparent at the Louvre and the set architectonics for her 2013 MTV Music Video Awards performance.
– ‘Immoral’ –
The gay son of a bourgeois Texas lawyer, with a abstruse dribble that he had to affected through acute psychotherapy sessions, Wilson was not destined for the theatre from a adolescent age.
“I grew up in a association area to go to the theatre was article immoral, it was a actual bourgeois bourgeois religious community,” he told AFP.
Nor did he accept abundant acceptance in his talent: “I was consistently the affliction in school, the basal of my class.”
After belief accomplished art and architecture, he confused to New York and absorbed himself in the beat apple of Andy Warhol and John Cage, but was repulsed by what he saw on Broadway.
“The theatre plays were all about acting natural, which consistently seemed to me so artificial. What’s amiss with illusion?” he told AFP.
His aboriginal works were a advised acknowledgment adjoin the mainstream.
“‘Deafman Glance’ was silent, it was visual… It was a shock, I think, because at the time there was annihilation abroad like it,” he recalled.
He abstruse the accent of backbone from beat choreographer Martha Graham, who told him: “If you accumulate alive continued abundant and adamantine abundant you’ll acquisition something.”
“Nine times out of 10, things don’t work,” Wilson says now. “But you aloof accumulate going.”
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