Opening Week Press on Death and the Powers

We’ve been inundated by press and reviews this week! It’s hard to keep up, so we’ve collected those from the past couple of days here. Death and the Powers has one more Boston performance this Friday night (March 25) before moving on to Chicago for a one-week run (April 2-10). – Updated March 24, 2011

Wall Street Journal – Full-Bodied Arias in a Postorganic World
“Composer Tod Machover heads the Opera of the Future project at MIT’s Media Lab, and that term nicely describes his “Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera,” which was given its U.S. premiere by the American Repertory Theater in Boston last week. It is clearly recognizable as opera: It has a story and characters, and its full-blooded arias, elegantly illuminating the apt (if occasionally self-conscious) text by the poet Robert Pinsky, are sung with passionate intensity by humans. The “future” part is embodied both in the orchestral writing, which skillfully combines acoustic and electronic music to create a remarkable range of colors and levels, and in the staging: not just the rather charming robots that grow, shrink and whiz around the stage, but the way that technology creates the playing environment, even allowing the main character’s performance to influence and animate the set.”

Financial Times – Death and the Powers, Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston
“…the quality of Machover’s music, steeped in the language of Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez, wedded to an imaginative libretto by Robert Pinsky, is what makes the opera worth seeing…Machover’s skilful vocal writing makes possible some other choice ensembles, and he builds tension arrestingly by insistently repeating phrases. More broadly, he deftly mixes electronic sounds with his orchestra’s 13 traditional instruments; interludes often have an eerie futuristic quality that contrasts with the lively rhythms of the singers’ scenes.”

Time Out Boston – Review: Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera (5 stars)
“Buildup can be a killer, but not in this case. Death and the Powers is a truly impressive piece of theater, one that’s got the weight to back up all its flash. Conceived by musician/inventor Tod Machover with a libretto by three-time Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, the show uses snazzy robots, high language and soaring vocals to grapple with one big question: What does it mean to be alive?…Death and the Powers is like nothing anyone’s ever seen before. Genuine technical innovation in theater (and we’re not talking actors falling from webs) is a rarity these days, particularly when paired with a great idea. So bow to our robot overlords—they have lovely singing voices.”

Variety Reviews – Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera
“The merging of man and machine gets a spectacular morphing in the always-fascinating and often-moving “Death and the Powers: The Robot’s Opera,” receiving its U.S. preem as a collaboration of A.R.T, M.I.T and the Chicago Opera Theater. Mortality, morality and science are the big subjects this technopera grapples with in former poet laureate Robert Pinsky’s playful, lyrical and existential libretto.”

Blast – Stage Review: “Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera” from the A.R.T.
“You hear the term “robot opera” and think: this could really only go one of two ways. It’s either going to be embarrassing turbo-charged nerd-slop, or else it’s going to be epic spectacle with a sense of humor that could challenge your ideas about the form. “Death and the Powers” is the latter. It hits the target with a laser beam. What’s more, its dazzling hi-tech stagecraft completely serves it’s a story, an epic worthy of heightened language and song style that really does capture the zeitgeist of information age anxiety.”

PC World – MIT Robots Take Stage In New Opera
An excellent video highlighting some of the technology behind Death and the Powers

Wicked Local – Waltham resident’s opera has tech in tune
Yay! Tod Machover makes it into his local paper for the first time! Based on an extensive interview, the article includes a photo of Tod in his 18-the century barn-studio. “‘It’s not just a weird science fiction story,’ said Machover. ‘It’s a story where these characters grapple with the most important things that we face every single day.’”

City’s Best Boston – ‘Death and the Powers’: A Robot Opera By Tod Machover
“The show is at times beautiful yet cacophonous, simultaneously horrifying and delightful. Even if you are not a fan of opera, it’s worth a viewing to see fully functioning robots performing on a stage for 90 minutes.”

Robot Living – Death And The Powers: The Robots’ Opera
This from a blog devoted to robots, posted by “ChiefRobot”!! “We had the good luck to see the opening night of the show and it was amazing.”

And don’t miss these previously posted reviews:

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