Gerard Mortier, General Manager Designate of New York City Opera, has announced that City Opera is commissioning Philip Glass to compose a new opera, The Perfect American which imaginatively explores the life and career of Walt Disney. Based on the recent novel Der König von Amerika by Peter Stephan Jungk, the opera, presented in collaboration with Improbable, is scheduled to open City Opera's 2012-2013 season.
The world premiere of this work, the 24th opera by Philip Glass, will honor the 75th birthday of the distinguished composer, whose association with City Opera dates back to the 1980s, when the company presented the New York premiere of his Akhnaten and recorded his Satyagraha.
Mr. Mortier has also scheduled a Philip Glass work for his inaugural 2009-2010 season when City Opera will present the landmark opera Einstein on the Beach. This will be the first staged production of the work in New York since 1992, reuniting director and co-creator Robert Wilson with the Philip Glass Ensemble and the Lucinda Childs Dance Company. Einstein on the Beach will be City Opera's first production in the newly refurbished New York State Theater, to be re-named the David H. Koch Theater.
Peter Stephan Jungk's novel The Perfect American imagines the final months of Walt Disney's life as recounted by the fictional Austrian cartoonist Wilhelm Dantine, who worked for Disney in the 1940s and 50s. Through the prism of Dantine's European sensibility, and his feelings of admiration and resentment toward his boss, the novel presents a multilayered image of the mid-20th-century American dream.
"The story of the last days of Walt Disney, American Icon and creator of perhaps the most pervasive fantasy world on our planet, is surprisingly gripping and at times disturbing. But, on the face of it, how could it be anything else? The pulse of his life has to be the pulse of our own American culture. And, like other aspects of life here, it is unimaginable, alarming, and truly frightening. I am looking forward to beginning these collaborations with Gerard Mortier at the New York City Opera," stated Philip Glass.