Photo by Megan Meister, Dallas Opera
One of the operabots from the cast of Death and the Powers went AWOL a few days ago from the Media Lab. It turned up yesterday in, of all places, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium! Apparently it was invited there to help publicize the Dallas Opera’s 2013-2014 season, which will include a simulcast of Turandot this April. Death and the Powers performances are scheduled for February 12, 14, 15 and 16 of next year.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Opera’s production of Death and the Powers “will feature baritone Robert Orth as the dying entrepreneur Simon Powers, soprano Joélle Harvey as Miranda, mezzo Patricia Risley as Evvy and tenor Hal Cazalet as Nicholas.
“Employing cutting-edge technology, the production will be directed by Diane Paulus, designed by Alex McDowell and conducted by Nicole Paiement. A partnership with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science will include special exhibits, lectures, demonstrations and workshops.”
Read the full story here: Dallas Opera announces 2013-14 season, ‘Turandot’ simulcast at Cowboys Stadium
More coverage here: Culturemap Dallas: Dallas Opera goes big for 2013-14 season, with another Cowboys Stadium simulcast
If you’re in Boston in early October, check out this event at the Museum of Fine Arts:
Mixed Taste: Tag-team Lectures on Unrelated Topics: Robot Opera and Clam Chowder
Huh? You may well ask. What do operatic robots have to do with chopped clams simmered with onions in a creamy broth? We don’t know, and that’s the idea behind this wildly popular series of talks curated by Adam Lerner , director and “chief animator” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. He is hosting this evening’s discussion with Tod Machover, composer of Death and the Powers, and Richard Vellante, executive VP of restaurants and executive chef, Legal Sea Foods. Chowder will be served!!
October 5, 2011, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Remis Auditorium, 161
Just when we thought the Chicago coverage was finished, we came across these two thoughtful and thorough blog posts:
MAL Music – Death and the Powers “This is one of those posts that makes it difficult for me not to just hit caps lock and begin effusing unintelligibly about how wonderful this show I saw was…Watching the show got me so engrossed in the plot, though, that it made it pretty difficult to admire the tech on its own — it all became a part of the story, which was probably their plan all along.”
A tale of two operas: ‘Vincent’ and ‘Death’ “Back in the day, opera was a true multimedia experience, from trompe l’oeil backgrounds to pre-digital sound effects. The use of robotics and other special effects in Death and the Powers gets towards that somewhat archaic sense of opera as a complete sensory experience — it was paced like a film and with just as much action, packed with ideas and humor, emotionally affecting and resonant, surprising and cutting-edge.”
We can’t thank Brian Dickie and his amazing team at Chicago Opera Theater enough for their years of support and faith in Death and the Powers. They did a fantastic job and the Chicago audiences were wonderful. We will cherish this experience. In his blog post about the end of the Chicago run, Brian writes, “…I can not believe that this is the end. I will certainly be doing whatever I can to encourage further performances. It needs to be seen everywhere that music and theater are alive and well.” We have our fingers and toes crossed for future performances too…
Emily Albrink (Evvy) David Kravitz (The United Nations) and Allegra Libonati (Assistant Director). Photo by Brian Dickie.
Here are the latest press and media articles and reviews. Check “Buzz” for a complete list. Continue reading
Thanks to the Chicago Opera Theater for putting this together!!
Miranda (Sarah Heaton) and Nick (Hal Cazalet), Chicago Opera Theater, posted by Brian Dickie
The Chicago Opera Theater production of Death and the Powers opened on Saturday night (April 2, 2011) to a full house and warm applause. The reviews have been largely positive, we’re relieved to say! Do check out COT General Director’s Brian Dickie’s blog for great photos and back-stage stories. There will be three more performances, on April 6 and 8 at 7:30PM, and on April 10 at 3:00PM. Tickets are still available!
Chicago Tribune – COT’s dazzling ‘robot opera’ poses provocative new questions
“”Death and the Powers” is a must-see for anybody who cares about the exciting new techno-driven directions music theater is taking in the early 21st century.”
The Contrapuntist – Review: DEATH AND THE POWERS, THE ROBOTS’ OPERA by Tod Machover at Chicago Opera Theater
“What do you get when you combine incredible singers, dynamic music, and a chorus of robotic Operabots? A jaw-dropping performance of Tod Machover‘s Death and the Powers, The Robots’ Opera at the Chicago Opera Theater (COT)…Scene 8 features the most powerful moment of the opera…Heaton’s emotional performance effectively expresses rage, confusion, and loneliness. The scene culminates as she sings a soaring high note which raised every hair on my body.”
New City Stage - Review: Death and the Powers/Chicago Opera Theater
“…new operas where every possible element pushes the envelope and which nonetheless manage to become much more than the sum of its parts are ultra rare. Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers,” which is receiving its Midwest premiere by Chicago Opera Theater after premiering in Monaco last September and after having its American premiere last month in Boston, is such a work.”
StyleBoston WCVB-TV produced this spot on Death and the Powers (April 2 and 3, 2011), with footage from the rehearsals at the Cutler Majestic and interviews with Tod Machover, Robert Pinsky and Diane Paulus. The operabots are cute and look good on camera!
Death and the Powers was successfully launched this past Saturday night for its week-long run with the Chicago Opera Theater. The production looks and sounds fabulous in the Harris Theater. Unlike the ornate, traditional venues in Monaco and Boston, the Harris has a dark, industrial modern design that harmonizes beautifully with the futuristic set. The theater is perched at the edge of Millennium Park, which is a giant candy box for design enthusiasts. We enjoyed a splendid day there, admiring the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Jaume Plensa’s immense glass wall with projected images of faces, savoring an avant-garde locavore lunch in Renzo Piano’s contemporary wing of the Institute of Art, and spending ridiculous amounts of time playing at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate. We would happily move to Chicago! Can someone come up with a way to install Death and the Powers permanently at Millennium Park? In the meantime, the first Chicago reviews have come in:
Soprano Sara Heaton and tenor Hal Cazalet in the opera "Death and the Powers," the American Repertory Theater production that bears a serious message about moral accountability.
David Patrick Stearns, the classical music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has written a thoughtful review of Death and the Powers and another new work, a stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Danny Boyle for the National Theater of Great Britain. The two works are linked thematically (“the desire to cheat death”) and by their effective use of stage technology to pack a cinematic punch. Here’s what he had to say about Death and the Powers:
As it now stands, Death and the Powers doesn’t point the way to a new era of opera. It’s there. Now.
Everything works – the robots of the prologue and epilogue move fluidly and expressively; the set consists of large movable video panels that create all sorts of atmosphere but also come together for larger composite images, which are particularly effective when the billionaire is communicating from his world of light. Continue reading
Finally, a moment to catch our breath while the entire stage set of Death and the Powers is being trucked to Chicago. Fingers and toes crossed that nothing breaks along the way, as there’s barely enough time to get everything set up and running smoothly for the Midwest premiere on Saturday, April 2!
We compiled press coverage from the Boston run last week, including reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Boston Herald and Boston Globe. Here are two more worth noting:
Boston Phoenix - Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, plus Norrington’s C.P.E. Bach and the Cantata Singers’ B-minor Mass
Music critic Lloyd Schwartz praises Robert Pinsky’s “moving and verbally playful libretto” and says that the text “has a poet’s mercurial wit and constantly shifting tone.” “Machover’s music, which combines a live orchestra (the splendid Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose) and “live” electronic manipulation by a team from Machover’s Media Lab, is also powerful,” with “sequences of vigorous rhythmic assertiveness to passages of hypnotic lyricism…Powers’s entrance into the System — almost the inverse of the “death” of HAL the computer in Kubrick’s 2001 — is unforgettable. Even stronger, both musically and dramatically, is the gripping final confrontation between Powers (Maddalena back in his real body after a long stretch of off-stage singing) and Miranda (soprano Sara Heaton), which ends with piercing irresolution when she thinks she prefers death to leaving her body behind.”
Cambridge Community Television – Death and the Powers: the Robots’ Opera
“The music is exciting to hear for the first time and promises further rewards on deeper acquaintance. Lovers of traditional opera will appreciate lyrical passages such as Miranda’s meditation on her feelings about her father, or the splendid trio by aid-seeking representatives of The United Way (counter-tenor Douglas Dodson), The United Nations (baritone David Kravitz), and The Administration (Tom McNichols, bass). Themes and motifs are laid out and reprised in ways immediately recognizable to people whose musical education started with Bach or Mozart. Devotees of the modern and post-modern will enjoy the futuristic aspects. The bionic Nicholas explains—in part through dance—how to get along without a body. Evvy sings a passionate love duet with a magical chandelier, whose form Simon has taken on in the System. There are pop and everyday elements, too…There are even jokes, as when Simon makes a flippant pun on a poem by William Butler Yeats…”