FINDING THE THERE THERE

IN HOUSTON, ROBERT WILSON BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO THE ONCE-UPON-A-TIME AVANT-GARDE SENSATION FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS

WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF Virgil Thomson's impish opera Four Saints in Three Acts? Composed to a nonsense text by Gertrude Stein, originally sung by a mostly amateur all-black cast and set against a 15,000-sq.-ft. cyclorama backdrop made of cellophane, the work was a sensation at its Hartford, Connecticut, premiere in February 1934 and quickly moved to Broadway for a six-week run. Ever since, music lovers have been debating what, if anything, it means. "Pigeons, on the grass alas," indeed.

To the rescue has come Robert Wilson, the avant-garde theater artist whose gorgeous new staging of Four Saints at the...

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