Then, in rehearsal, I look at it again

Vesey Street (He Could Doubtless Do Exactly The Same Thing) ©MAIERMOUL
Vesey Street (He Could Doubtless Do Exactly The Same Thing) ©MAIERMOUL

Robert Wilson was sketching. Circles within circles, horizontal lines punctuating them, numbers and words alongside.

The diagram was a visual rendition of the structure of one of his early works, “The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin,” but he could doubtless do exactly the same thing for any of the numerous theater and opera pieces he has created and directed in the course of a 45-year career.

“I usually make a big map when I’m making a piece, to get the whole picture,” Mr. Wilson explained over lunch at a brasserie below the Bastille opera house, where he was working on a new production of Monteverdi’s “Coronation of Poppea.” “Then I detail it. Then, in rehearsal, I look at it again, detail it again, make it again. It’s a bit like taking the layers of an onion away.”

Robert Wilson New York Times interview, Roslyn Sulcas