It’s not every day that you’re offered the opportunity to follow the development of a new opera. It’s also not every day that that opera involves disembodied performances, an animated stage, and a robot chorus. But sometimes these opportunities just come along, as they often do in life. Sometimes, the robot opera calls to you, and you just have to go with it.
My name is Jess Kim, and I’m a senior graduating from MIT in what seems like, oh, the next five minutes. After four strenuous years at MIT, I’m getting my degree in brain and cognitive sciences and getting out – or as much as one can get out, when one is moving down the street and continuing to work for MIT. As I transition from student life to working, I’ll also be transitioning from my previous gig writing for the MIT Admissions blog, in which I wrote primarily for high school students about daily life at the institute, to writing for Opera of the Future. For the next few months I’ll be following the development of Death and the Powers, Tod Machover‘s new opera currently under works at the MIT Media Lab, and bringing you the latest photos and videos from the production as it comes to life from the music and libretto.
I’m a new addition to the project – not a member of the production team, sound design, or even the robot chorus, just an outsider who loves the arts and is easily excited by such monumental projects. I grew up on classical opera, entranced by the grandeur of Puccini’s Turandot and shrieking along to the Magic Flute, a terribly butchered version of the Queen of the Night’s famous aria wrestling its way from my lungs as I leaped onto the coffee table and my mother yelled at me to find a new hobby. Opera was not a central piece of my childhood, but it was certainly a constant – Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, and Pagliacci all made up the soundtracks to every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthday at home. My father even confided in me that his dream in college was to be an opera singer, which he is sure to remind all of us about every time we go to karaoke.
So needless to say, I’m thrilled to be a part of the Death and the Powers team, and I look forward to learning about and sharing how the opera develops over the next few months! This week is a busy one since it’s Sponsor Week at the Media Lab, so I’ll be running around to give you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on, starting with tomorrow – we’ll be meeting with the creative team to talk about how they first got involved in the project, and what they’re wrestling with now. See you then!