Everyone is sweating bullets from morning until late at night to pull a zillion pieces together for this Wednesday, when there will be a complete run-through of the opera in preparation for shipping everything to Monaco. The complexity of this opera is mind-boggling: The singers and orchestra have to learn an extremely challenging score. The choreographer needs to devise a series of intricate movements for each character. The moving wall panels and robots have to work flawlessly. The images appearing on the moving walls have to coordinate with the music and emotion of the story – and look drop-dead gorgeous. The giant chandelier has to perform as a wondrous new species of musical instrument. The director has to bring all these elements to life on the stage with conviction and power.
Yesterday, I watched in awe as Karole and Hal worked through his dance with two of his robot creations. He ran across the stage as a robot sped forward to greet him, then moved down stage to leap playfully back and forth between two robots, twirling 360 degrees in the air and interacting with each robot. Some thirty feet overhead, a team of robot controllers furiously kept up, programming each robot to carry out its whirls and bobs, making the changes Karole required for each iteration. At one point, a robot conked out in the middle of its performance and had to quickly exit the stage to be replaced by a sibling. Although comprised of abstract forms – a triangular “head” mounted atop slender pillars of clear lucite, the robots are surprisingly characterful. One couldn’t help think the first robot seemed dejected as it rolled off stage, while its identical understudy sped onto stage seemingly eager to strut its stuff.