Starting with their monumental collaboration in 1976 with 'Einstein on the Beach', Philip Glass and Robert Wilson later became internationally known as leading creators of new music theater. In 1997, 'Monsters of Grace', which was billed as a "digital opera in 3-D", once again brought together these two creative giants in a production which included animated visuals of Robert Wilson's designs - viewed by the audience through 3-D glasses - with music by Philip Glass performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble and a cast of four singers. The 70-minute work was premiered at the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles in April 1998.
This world premiere recording, with a 26-page booklet featuring Wilson's original 'Monsters of Grace' sketches, presents a transcendent Glass score which marries exotic sounds to the 13th century Sufi mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi's words (translated/adapted from the original Persian by Coleman Banks) in a completely unique theatrical experience. Rumi's poems are meditations on the range of human experience: inspiration for Art, companionship and compassion, ruminations on earthly pleasures, questions of heaven, the secrets of life, joy, mortality, recognition of the self, and the nature of God.
As were all the other Glass/Wilson collaborations, 'Monsters of Grace' is ultimately forward looking and ambitious despite the difficulties and frustrations that occurred during its creation, mostly due to the challenge of new digital technology (the animation was ultimately extremely expensive, time consuming and inflexible). So this new recording represents a unique opportunity to re-assess a very unusual work. [The epilogue from Monsters of Grace is also on Paul Barnes' solo piano disc for Orange Mountain Music, 'The Orphée Suite for Piano.'