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Happy Birthday Philip Glass (In Advance)

January 22, 2007

San Francisco Opera celebrated Philip Glass' upcoming 70th birthday (which falls on January 31) this morning with singers from the Adler program unleashing the lushest, most densely harmonized version of 'Happy Birthday To You' I've ever heard. It was more chocolaty than the enormous cake that the opera had ordered to mark the occasion. Glass was on hand to talk about the development of his new opera, Appomatox, which SF Opera will be premiering in October. George C Wolfe is directing and Christopher Hampton is writing the libretto.

It was slightly difficult to make out Glass' words about his new piece as he's a terrible mumbler, but the gist of it sounds intriguing. The work is about the close of the Civil War and the relationship between Robert E Lee and Ulysses S Grant. Glass said "there's scarcely anyone in politics today possessing the moral stature of these two men." The statement initially struck me as far-fetched, but now that I think about the cowardly natures of so many of the people involved in our current administration, Glass' words might not be as hyperbolic as they seem. For Glass, the close of the Civil War wasn't the end of something, but the beginning of something -- the civil rights movement, the awakening of the country's conscience etc. This opera looks to be the most exciting thing produced at SF Opera since Dr. Atomic. I'm rather hoping it will be better than the Sellars/Adams collaboration though.

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