In 2013 at Madrid’s Teatro Real, Philip Glass presented the world premiere of his most recent creation, the opera The Perfect American (with a libretto by Rudy Wurlitzer based on Peter Stephan Jungk’s novel of the same name). A fictionalized account of the last months in the life of Walt Disney, the opera explores the state of mind of this extremely influential 20th century cultural icon. His biggest concerns at that pivotal moment? A despondent Walt Disney laments the fact that the science of cryogenics will not enable him to live forever as he had hoped...
Though at first glance Walt seems like the happy owner of a magic wand that can grant all of his wishes, it soon becomes clear that he is as tortured as Wilhelm Dantine, an illustrator who worked for him, responsible for Sleeping Beauty among other animated features. Fascinated by the childish omnipotence of a man who identified with Mickey Mouse, Dantine desperately seeks Disney’s approval, risking his own ruin. In this opera, the universe of this “perfect American” is recreated by the magical presence of people close to Walt Disney: his wife Lillian, his confidante Hazel, his brother Roy, his children Dian and Sharon, and his close collaborators.
Photo © Javier del Real
Los Angeles Philharmonic
2008 New Year's Eve Concert