In 2013, Arts Centre Melbourne continues its push to become the performing arts face of Victoria with the launch of another ambitious annual programme, headlined by Einstein on the Beach, a revival of the monumental pathbreaking opera by Robert Wilson, Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs. There's also a new season of intimate entertainment in The Famous Spiegeltent, including Katie Noonan and Imogen Kelly, plus, back under the spire, family-friendly shows like the children's opera Puss in Boots; Miss Ophelia, a musical theatre adaptation of Michael Ende's book Ophelia's Shadow Theatre; and .h.g, an interactive version of the Hansel and Gretel story.
Following their presentation of Robert Lepage's nine-hour endurance test, Lipsynch, the Art Centre continues to push the auteur envelope with one of the few operatic masterpieces of the late 20th century, Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, with a memorable score by Philip Glass and choreography by Lucinda Childs. Last performed – anywhere in the world – in Melbourne, 21 years ago, Einstein has been revived for an international tour. Catch it in the State Theatre from 31 July to 4 August.
According to Arts Centre CEO Judith Isherwood, "Watching Einstein is like watching a mini-series in one sitting – you just sit back, let it wash over you and immerse yourself in the incredible world unfolding in front of your eyes."
Before that, from 5 February to 21 April, The Famous Spiegeltent will once more grace the Arts Centre Forecourt, with an extensive programme of cabaret, live music, circus, sideshow and children's entertainment. Highlights include Love-Song-Circus, a collaboration between Katie Noonan and a collective of circus artists, performing a song cycle inspired by the letters and stories of Australia's convict women; The Dark Party's sinister sideshow comedy; and Irish comedy-dance troupe Ponydance's Anybody Waitin', a winner at the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival. There's also Trevor Ashley, Christa Hughes, Dr Sketchy, New Brisbane circus outfit Casus, Melbourne's favourite story-time salon Women of Letters, Tex Perkins, Kate Ceberano, David Bridie and many more. Check the Arts Centre website for details.
Apart from Einstein, the Arts Centre's winter season will also include the return of Ballet Revolución, a Cuban fusion of ballet, hip-hop and acrobatic contemporary dance; Penny Plain, Ronnie Burkett's gothic puppet-parable; and Proximity, a new work from combining live video and contemporary dance from Australian Dance Theatre, a hit at the 2012 Adelaide Festival. There are also plenty of family events, including Xavier Montsalvatge's Puss in Boots, presented with Victorian Opera in May; the return of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer in August; and Theo and the Lion, an adaptation of Pamela Allen's picture book, A Lion in the Night, from Adelaide's Patch Theatre Company.
Going beyond the traditional stage-and-audience arrangement, .h.g is a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel for an audience of one (or two!). Audients journey through a series of darkened rooms and passages with only a torch and an iPod for company. Or is there someone else? More details on programmed family events can be found at the Arts Centre website.
Also worth waiting for are the two already announced co-presentations: the National Theatre's globetrotting farce, One Man, Two Guvnors, with the MTC, and Opera Australia's epic new Ring Cycle, which takes over the State Theatre in November and December.
In recent years, Arts Centre Melbourne have also been trying to open their extraordinary performing arts collection to the public with more exhibitions and displays around the St Kilda Road complex. In 2013, this continues with exhibitions including a Geoffrey Rush special from July to October, a selection of some of the collection's super-sparkly costumes opening in November, including pieces from Kylie Minogue, Dame Nellie Melba and Joan Sutherland, and some rare performative prints from the Torres Strait on display from March to July. The Arts Centre's collection of Sidney Nolan paintings, Paradise Garden, will also be dusted off for a free exhibition, open until October 2013.
Meanwhile, Arts Centre Melbourne's 2012/13 summer season rolls on – you can check out all Time Out's highlights here.
Sign up to our monthly arts newsletter