The Best New Opera Production Olivier Award has been awarded to Einstein On The Beach, which played at the Barbican theatre last May.
The rarely performed opera first launched director Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass to fame when it made its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, with the piece celebrated for its unusual structure that breaks all the rules of a conventional opera and takes a non-narrative form.
This revival played more than four decades later and 21 years since its last production. In its four star review, The Independent said: "The 'events' in Glass's intricately-patterned score unfold at a glacial pace, and so do Wilson's images, but their needle-sharp super-reality is mesmerising."
Requiring performers to both sing and dance, Einstein On The Beach was steeped in director Wilson's trademark style, juxtaposing a series of powerful recurrent images with choreographer Lucinda Childs' abstract dance sequences.
The production lost none of its anti-conventionalism for this revival with audiences invited to enter and exit whenever they pleased during its five hours of eccentric performance.
Speaking us after collecting their prize, the winners said: "It’s extraordinary. [We're] completely amazed that this production that was created in 1976 – the same year the Oliviers started – has been honoured this way. It took such a long time. We’ve been working together for over 10 years to try to make this happen, so that it should end like this is wonderful.
"As long as it has taken to realise the producing and presenting side of it, it’s so rigorous for the company. It’s so difficult for them to perform five hours every night. It’s so inspiring."