NYC Opera commissions work by Philip Glass

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Philip Glass has been commissioned by New York City Opera to compose an opera that imagines the final months in the life of Walt Disney.

The opera, “The Perfect American,” is based on a recent novel by the American-born writer Peter Stephan Jungk in which a fictional Austrian cartoonist who worked for Disney in the 1940s-1950s recounts the story of the legendary founder of the Walt Disney Company.

It will open City Opera’s 2012-13 season and honor the composer’s 75th birthday, City Opera’s incoming General Manager Gerard Mortier announced Monday.

The company has scrapped the traditional 2008-09 season while its home, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, undergoes a $200 million renovation. Instead of staged operas, the company is presenting concert performances around the city.

As part of the 2009-10 season, City Opera will present Glass’ “Einstein on the Beach,” which was first staged in New York in 1992 and will be the company’s opera performed at the refurbished theater. The season will focus on 20th-century works.

The renovated theater will be renamed the David H. Koch Theater after its chief benefactor.

City Opera and Glass have a long history dating to the 1980s, when the company presented the New York premiere of “Akhnaten” and recorded “Satyagraha.”

In addition to 24 operas, Glass, whose style is based on repetitive themes, has written symphonies and music for experimental theater, film and dance.

Jungk has written eight books. His newest, “Crossing the Hudson,” is scheduled to be released next year. He also has directed “A Bridge Between Two Worlds,” a documentary on the pianist, composer and conductor Andre Previn.