This past Saturday Kelly and I trekked back up to NYC to see the World Premiere of Robert Wilson’s newest opera, Zinnias – The Life of Clementine Hunter.
Hunter was a self-taught artist who now is collected around the world but was the first one Wilson met as a young child (he bought one of her paintings for $20).
Although the design and production had his signature all over the it spirit of the piece was much lighter and more straightforward than what he is known for. It is well-documented that he has little taste and respect for traditional Broadway theater but this piece could easily be staged on the Great White Way.
Coming in just over an hour and a half it also bucks his tradition of long pieces but the story was straightforward with the music steeped in the traditions of American roots.
As you will see in the accompanying pictures it’s a very colorful piece and sets out to illustrate and amplify the simple yet powerful paintings Hunter did as well as the journey she took as a cotton picker in early 20th century Louisiana. She, herself wasn’t allowed to enter the gallery in Texas that staged her first exhibition, having to wait till a Sunday when it was closed to the public.
One welcome aspect for me was seeing Sheryl Sutton perform. She was in the original ‘Einstein on the Beach,’ Wilson’s seminal work and was the lone actor who stayed true to Wilson’s unique view of time.
Now it’s on to Toronto in June to see “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.” Who knows where or what after that….
In the meantime here are some photos I took at the show.
Here’s the official set of images from Wilson’s Flickr account