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Classic Opera 'Lohengrin' Goes Avant-Garde

Traditionalists shuddered, but avant-garde director Robert Wilson proceeded confidently with his debut at the Metropolitan Opera House, proving that his distinctive touch has enough expressive subtleties to enhance even so venerable a warhorse as Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin."

Wilson's modernist stage designs have little Wagnerian about them - picture medieval Antwerp with neon-lit columns sprouting from earth and sky - but his dreamlike visions strike a tone obliquely similar to the opera's proudly mythical ambiance, and his slow-motion visuals complement Wagner's expansive music. In all, this moving production stretches the horizons of music theater.

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Downtown, meanwhile, the magnificent Wooster Group has been transforming Gertrude Stein in "House/Lights" and Eugene O'Neill in "The Emperor Jones." Old texts are truly inspiring today's most forward-looking stage artists.