OPERA: Wagner Meets Cocteau

Philip Glass's La Belle et la Bete audaciously combines film and music to create a beautiful, superbly integrated work

Richard Wagner envisioned something he called a Gesamtkunstwerk -- an all- encompassing work of art -- that would meld music, poetry, drama, dance and stagecraft into one unified, glorious spectacle. The Minimalist composer Philip Glass, 57, has been inviting comparison with Wagner ever since the 1976 debut of his four-hour epic Einstein on the Beach, Wagnerian in length and scope if not in idiom; and the Wagnerian ideal has been evident in much of his later work as well -- in Hydrogen Jukebox's marriage of Minimalism to the poetry of Allen Ginsberg (1990), and in 1,000 Airplanes on the Roof (1988),...

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