Wilson, Robert, notable American theater director, stage designer, and dramatist; b. Waco, Tex., Oct. 4, 1941. After training at the Univ. of Tex. (1959-65), he took his B.RA. in architecture at the Pratt Inst. in N.Y. In 1969 he began his career as a dramatist. His collaboration with Philip Glass on Einstein on the Beach (Avignon Festival and the Metropolitan Opera, N.Y., 1976) brought him wide recognition, and he subsequently collaborated with Gavin Bryars on Medea (Lyons, 1984) and with Glass on portions of The Civil Wars (1984-87). His later work has been seen to best advantage in Médée by Charpentier (Lyons, 1984), Salome (Milan, 1987), Alceste (Chicago, 1990), Die Zauberflöte (Paris, 1991), Madama Butterfly (Stuttgart, 1993), and Prometeo by Nono (Brussels, 1997). He also created the pop opera trilogy, a “reinvention of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine,” that includes The Black Rider (1993; music by Tom Waits), Alice (1995; music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan), and Time Rocker (1996; music by Lou Reed). In 1997 he produced Gertrude Stein’s Saints and Singing at the Hebbel Theater in Berlin, and in 1998 the Berliner Ensemble presented his production of Bertolt Brecht’s Oceanflight. In 1998 he also mounted his first production, Lohengrin, with the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. On July 7, 1999, his The Days Before Death Destruction & Detroit III, to a libretto after Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before, with music by Ryuichi Sakamoto (founder of the techno-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra [YMO] and winner of an Academy Award for his film score for The Last Emperor), was given its first perf. in N.Y. Wilson has been engaged for the Ring cycle at the Bayreuth Festival in 2000. His provocative productions have elicited great interest and much controversy. He is an acknowledged master of mixed-media forms.
L. Shyer, R. W. and His Collaborators (NY., 1990).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire