Those two artists had to meet and it is quite surprising how late it happened. Arvo Pärt and Robert Wilson. The acetic of music and the ascetic of theatre. Monumental minimalism, the prevalence of colour and harmony – these are just some of the common traits of their work. The 74-year-old director created a play around the three compositions of the 80-year-old composer: Adam’s Lament, Miserere and Tabula Rasa as well as Sequentia which was written especially for that occasion. The premiere of The Passion of Adam took place on 11 May 2015 in the spectacular location of the Noblessner shipyard in Tallin, where submarines used to be constructed in the times of the Soviet Union. Naturally, the medium of film is not able to fully communicate the magic of space and light, conjured up by the American visionary in this particular stage design. Nevertheless, the presentation of the fruit of Pärt’s and Wilson’s collaboration is an event which cannot be missed.
Arvo Pärt is one of those composers in the world, whose creative output has significantly changed the way we understand the nature of music. Since 1976, his unique tintinnabuli compositions have established a new musical paradigm and an approach to composing that he is still using today. And, although there is no school that follows him, nor does he teach, a large part of the music of the second half of the 20th century has been strongly influenced by Pärt’s tintinnabuli compositions.
Of Wilson’s artistic career, Susan Sontag has added “it has the signature of a major artistic creation. I can’t think of any body of work as large or as influential.” A native of Waco, Texas, Wilson was educated at the University of Texas and arrived in New York in 1963 to attend Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Soon thereafter, Wilson set to work with his Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds and, together with his company, developed his first signature works including King of Spain (1969), Deafman Glance (1970), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974). Regarded as a leader of Manhattan’s then-burgeoning downtown art scene, Wilson turned his attention to large-scale opera and, with Philip Glass, created the monumental Einstein on the Beach (1976), which achieved worldwide acclaim and altered conventional notions of a moribund form.