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Jorn Weisbrodt.

Jorn Weisbrodt takes on his new role as Artistic Director of Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, moving to the city with his partner, singer Rufus Wainwright, to assume responsibility for the festival's artistic vision and for programming its multi-disciplinary international lineup. Plans for the sixth Lurninato next Jun. 8-17 are already well under way, of course, though Weisbrodt has had a decisive hand in one marquee event-the North American premiere of a new staging of artist/director Robert Wilson's and composer Phillip Glass's Einstein on the Beach.

Weisbrodt has been working to get the new staging of this near-legendary music-theatre event on the road for years. He comes to Luminato after five years as Executive Director of RW Work Ltd., which represents and manages Wilson's creative assets, and director of The Watermill Centre on Long Island, NY, founded by Wilson as a kind ofincubator for cross-disciplinary creativity in performance and installations." Wilson and Glass are both in their 70s, and they're keen to see how Einstein will work now," says Weisbrodt of a piece that was commissioned and performed in 1976 and has since been revived only in 1986 and 1992. "It was going to be part of Gerard Mortier's first season at NewYork City Opera. But then plans fell apart when he abruptly quit."


The new production opens in Montpellier, France, in March, then goes to London in May, before its Jun. 8-10 Toronto run. It's also slated for NewYork's Brooklyn Academy of Music and Cal Performances University of California in Berkeley next fall, and Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam in Jan. 2013. But Einstein wasn't conceived as an opera in the conventional sense, though it is a staged piece for voices, instruments and dancers in an elaborately worked out visual setting. "It's not a narrative piece," says Weisbrodt. "It's more like a meditation that you experience. Wilson wants the audience to come to the stage to form its own narrative. The piece gives you the opportunity to come up with your own ideas."

Luminato is also giving Weisbrodt wide scope to come up with ideas to program festival seasons, and indeed the opportunity to range over diverse creative fields was a big attraction to him. It's one for which he's well prepared, quite apart from his recent work with Wilson. Born in Hamburg and educated in Germany, he originally thought of working in the sciences before a childhood love of music and the arts (he played piano and sang in choirs) led him to a life in theatre. He studied directing at the Hochschule fur Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin, and benefitted from working closely with leading directors, especially the late Ruth Berghaus and Heiner Muller, Peter Stein, Peter Konwitschny and. of course, Wilson, whom he first met as a Salzburg Festival intern when Wilson was directing Peuem ct Mclisandc. He also subsequently worked for a year as an assistant to Wilson, who he credits with leading him into arts administration. Before moving to North America, Weisbrodt worked with a number of major producers, including as Assistant Director at Deutsches Theater and Artistic Production Director at Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where, over his five-year tenure, he produced numerous multi - disciplinary events related to mainstage opera productions. In one much-discussed example, performance and visual artist Jonathan Meese performed'Jonathan Meese ist Mutter Parzifal" ("Jonathan Meese is Mother Parsifal"), a one-man interpretation of the characters in Wagner's Parsifal to music piped in from a live performance conducted by Daniel Barenboim in the opera house next door." Luminato's strong interest in cross-disciplinary creation is a good fit with my own interests," he says. "I love to bring people from different backgrounds together to make creative connections."

For details on the 2012 Luminato festival and Einstein on the Beach, go to
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Title Annotation:Artists on Stage
Author:Gooding, Wayne
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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