The Arty Semite

Forward Fives: 2012 in Performance

By Forward Staff

Philip Glass, “Einstein on the Beach”

LUCIE JANSCH

Tickets to performances of a stellar revival Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music were among New York’s most coveted this September as the monumental four-and-a-half-hour conceptual opera, which originally premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, concluded a year-long tour in honor of the composer’s 75th birthday. Perhaps more than any other piece, “Einstein” proves that the term “minimalist” doesn’t offer an especially apt description of much of Glass’s work: In it, he applied his signature techniques of repetition and subtle variation on a truly massive scale. The result is a sprawling work that evokes a vision of the end of days as it seems to distort the passage of time itself; 36 years on, it remains as disorienting as it is exhilarating.

Dan Fishback, “The Material World”

What’s your socialist bubbe got to do with the Queen of Pop? That’s the question at the heart of Dan Fishback’s musical “The Material World.” The setting for the show is a dream-world 1920s Bronx boarding house where a family of Russian Jewish socialists lives with Madonna, Britney Spears and a gay teenager plotting a Facebook revolution. Even if Kabbalah and communism aren’t your cup of tea, the show had plenty to recommend it, including Fishback’s songwriting talents.

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