Lighting and Sound magazine has published its report on the Prague Quadrennial conference (from page 110). The event held in June 2011 is one of the world’s foremost gatherings of theater lighting and sound professionals. Starting on page 113, the article summarizes Tod Machover’s talk, which focused on how technologies such as Hyperinstruments, Hyperscore and disembodied performance from Death and the Powers, were motivated by the desire to design systems that can lead to compelling live performance experiences.
Approaching a new piece of music, especially one as complex as an opera, is an imposing challenge for the audience. There is almost too much to take in – the story, music, language, the action and staging. Most audience members will feel as though they have barely grazed the surface the first time they see it. Sadly, that may be the only opportunity for most people to experience the work. Contrast this to how opera lovers typically take in a performance of a favorite classic. They will know the story and the music intimately, and are primed to be swept away (or not) by a particular interpretation.
We set up this blog to see if we could simulate, with a new opera, the richness of seeing a familiar work. Over the past months, we have introduced you to the creative team, performing artists and technology behind Death and the Powers. Getting all of these components to “click” and work flawlessly on stage was itself a high-wire act. Now we are launching a series of video excerpts from the world premiere performance in Monaco. We provide subtitles, scene synopses and the full text of Robert Pinsky’s superb libretto, so that by the time you arrive at your seat, you will be ready to be swept along by this futuristic yet deeply human drama.
Darkness. Robots roll, lurch, and glide onstage as a group and then disassemble into separate units. Four robots emerge from the pack and begin to speak. In their dialogue, each robot tries to understand the meaning of the word “death,” a strange concept they encounter in a drama left behind by their human creators. At the end of the prologue, still puzzled by the idea of death, the robots proceed to follow the human creators’ command to perform the ritual drama. The robot leader announces: “Now it is time we started.”
Video production by Paula Aguilera and Jonathan Williams
Tod Machover’s new opera Death and the Powers had its U.S. premiere in Boston and Chicago this spring, where it was warmly received by audiences and reviewers. Click on tabs above for a wealth of information about the background, personalities, music and media coverage (“buzz”). We would like to thank all who were involved for their support. It has been amazing. We will continue to update you on the progress of this and other projects from the Opera of the Future group. We will also be posting about many of Tod’s past operas and other work, which have not been readily available to listeners.
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Behind every opera is…another opera. This summer, Tod Machover’s new work, Death and the Powers, will enter the home stretch as the crew works to complete one of the most technically ambitious and visionary opera sets ever built, and the cast arrives in Boston to rehearse for the world premiere in Monte Carlo on September 24, 2010.
Watch this space for an intimate view of what goes into bringing a new opera to the stage. Please subscribe to receive updates. Post comments to ask questions and join the conversation about the future of opera, new music, technology, and any of the themes that this opera touches upon.
Visit the Death and the Powers web page to learn more about the project.