Described by The New York Times as, "a towering figure in the world of experimental theatre and an explorer in the uses of time and space on stage," Robert Wilson is an internationally acclaimed director, designer, architect, actor, sculptor and painter. His works, performed on five continents, have won numerous international awards. In a conversation with Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company (COC), Wilson will talk about directing Turandot, that opens at the COC on September 28. He will also be presented with the 2019 Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Push Forward Lifetime Achievement Award.
Robert Wilson’s works for the stage integrate a wide variety of artistic media, including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics worldwide.
Wilson founded the New York-based performance collective “The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds” in the mid-1960s, and developed his first signature works, including Deafman Glance (1970) and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974-1975). With Philip Glass he wrote the seminal opera Einstein on the Beach (1976).
Wilson’s artistic collaborators include many writers and musicians such as Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Lou Reed, Jessye Norman and Anna Calvi. He has also left his imprint on masterworks such as Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Brecht/Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande, Goethe’s Faust, Homer’s Odyssey, Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s La Traviata and Sophocles’ Oedipus.
Wilson's drawings, paintings and sculptures have been presented around the world in hundreds of solo and group showings, and his works are held in private collections and museums throughout the world.
Wilson has been honored with numerous awards for excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination, two Premio Ubu awards, the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale, and an Olivier Award. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the German Academy of the Arts, and holds 8 Honorary Doctorate degrees. France pronounced him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (2003) and Officer of the Legion of Honor (2014); Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2014).
Wilson is the founder and Artistic Director of The Watermill Center, a laboratory for the Arts in Water Mill, New York.
Alexander Neef, appointed General Director of the Canadian Opera Company in 2008, has worked with some of the most prestigious arts organizations in the world, including the Salzburg Festival, Germany’s RuhrTriennale, New York City Opera and Opéra national de Paris, where he was one of Gerard Mortier’s closest collaborators as Head of Casting. He returns to Opéra national de Paris in the 2020/2021 season, following his recent appointment as its next General Director in July 2019.
NOTE: CDTPS faculty and students can attend the dress rehearsals for the COC's 2019/20 season for a discounted rate. Please check your email for the details.
Award ceremony and conversation to take place in the Robert Gill Theatre. Reception to follow in the BMO Lab, Room 320.