1000 Airplanes on the Roof

American Music Theater Festival

In this era of mega-Gesamtkunstwerk performance affairs, it’s rare to encounter works that actually deliver the new theatrical pleasures promised by the couplings of cross-genre collaboration and polymorphous mixed media. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, a “science-fiction music-drama,” combined musical, dramatic, and scenic elements by its three collaborators—composer Philip Glass, playwright David Henry Hwang, and set designer Jerome Sirlin—in exemplary fashion. In practical terms, this hyphenate hybrid resembled a chamber opera, with its 90-minute length, limited character development, and constant musical accompaniment, although there was more spoken text here than would typically appear in a more traditional version of that form. Each creator presented a potent contribution in his singular trademark style, but the performance’s considerable power derived from the adroitly balanced interweaving

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