The Dallas Opera will expand its reach across the globe with its simulcast of Death and the Powers in February 2014. The production at the Winspear Opera House will be re-broadcasted in still to be determined venues in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, New York City and its boroughs, Philadelphia, Paris, Los Angeles, London and Stockholm — as well as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
The simulcast, though, won’t be your run-of-the-mill, Metropolitan Opera-style rebroadcast. Watching Death and the Powers in one of the partner venues will provide a completely different way of experiencing the work:
Patrons will experience Simon Powers’ perspective from within “The System,” as well as a “robot’s eye view” of the opera, while tapping into a variety of interactive features. Those attending the simulcast anywhere in the world will have an opportunity to interact with the main performance onstage—through cellphones, tablets and other handheld devices—in order to influence the visual elements in the Winspear Opera House in real time, as they unfold.
Death and the Powers, as you may remember from the Dallas Opera’s season announcement, is a “robot opera” written by American composer, inventor, and educator Tod Machover, who has a position at MIT’s Media Lab. The international simulcast is being made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a partnership with the MIT Media Lab. If you’re wondering what on earth Machover means by “robot opera,” check out this video, followed by the full release about the Dallas Opera simulcast:
Death and the Powers:
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014
AT 2:00 P.M. (Central Time)
THE MARGOT AND BILL WINSPEAR OPERA HOUSE AT THE AT&T PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, DALLAS TX
Remote locations throughout the U.S. and Europe, including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, with new interactive capabilities and views!
PRODUCED BY: TOD MACHOVER, KEITH CERNY, ROBERT A. ELLIS, MIT MEDIA LAB
AND THE DALLAS OPERA
Death and the Powers supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
DALLAS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 – The Dallas Opera is privileged to announce an extraordinary and unprecedented experiment in twenty-first century opera: “The Dallas Opera’s Global Interactive Simulcast” of acclaimed American composer Tod Machover’s DEATH AND THE POWERS, scheduled to take place in Dallas on Sunday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m. Central Time, originating in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and being simulcast to as many as ten locations in Europe and the U.S.
The Dallas Opera is currently in negotiations with a wide-range of venues and organizations located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, New York City and its boroughs, Philadelphia, Paris, Los Angeles, London and Stockholm—as well as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the Dallas Arts District, which has already shown a keen interest in the questions raised by Machover’s “robot pageant” opera and has partnered with both the Dallas Opera and the MIT Media Lab’s “Opera of the Future” program to support this innovative approach to the art form and attract new generations to opera.
DEATH AND THE POWERS, with music by composer/inventor Tod Machover and text by librettist Robert Pinsky (one of America’s foremost living poets) received rave reviews at its sold-out 2010 Monte Carlo world premiere and subsequent engagements in Boston and Chicago.
However, this unprecedented Dallas Opera Global Simulcast offers far more than a mere stage production; patrons will experience Simon Powers’ perspective from within “The System,” as well as a “robot’s eye view” of the opera, while tapping into a variety of interactive features. Those attending the simulcast anywhere in the world will have an opportunity to interact with the main performance onstage—through cellphones, tablets and other handheld devices—in order to influence the visual elements in the Winspear Opera House in real time, as they unfold.
With the cooperation of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and The Moody Foundation, this production will incorporate the state-of-the-art Moody Chandelier as an important element of the visual and auditory experience.
“The Dallas Opera is thrilled to be collaborating with the brilliant composer and technologist, Tod Machover, on bringing this important work to Dallas,” says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “and presenting an unprecedented interactive global simulcast of the work. In this ‘Brave New World’ of high-tech opera, nothing is off-limits, and we are working closely and intensely with the composer, MIT and leading opera companies in the U.S., U.K. and continental Europe to add these new interactive and creative elements to an already outstanding twenty-first century masterpiece.
“All of us at the Dallas Opera are tremendously grateful to Bob Ellis and Jane Bernstein—whose generosity has brought this dream to life.”
Leading a team from the MIT Media Lab, Tod Machover produced “a challenging opera that questioned how far the human race can push technological development toward immortality.” The action centers on a terminally ill billionaire who downloads his consciousness into an artificial construct and then attempts to persuade his loved ones to join him there.
Andrew Porter of Opera magazine described Death and the Powers as “A grand, rich, deeply serious new opera.”
At the same time, critic Stephen J. Mudge of Opera News noted: “Any worry that the opera might be taking itself too seriously is answered by Pinsky’s witty and at times lighthearted libretto, which treats the situation with respect but levity.”
“It is so exciting to be bringing Death and the Powers to The Dallas Opera, and equally exciting to be collaborating with TDO – under the guidance of Keith Cerny and with the generous support of Bob Ellis and Jane Bernstein – to create an interactive streaming experience so that audiences around the world can be connected to the live Dallas performance,” says composer Tod Machover.
“Our challenge is to create extra layers and interactions for this remote viewing so that being ‘there’ will be just as compelling and powerful as being physically in the Winspear, while revealing new aspects of the opera – such as what it feels like to be ‘in The System’ with Simon Powers – for the very first time.”
Jeremy Eichler of The Boston Globe wrote that the sci-fi opera “sets its gaze on subjects both ancient and ultra-modern. In the former camp is the question of whether the soul, or something beyond the body, can live after our death. In the latter camp is the question of the deeper meanings of our infatuation with technology — the way we experience our lives increasingly through its prism…That trailblazing technology is itself put to the service of exploring these points is one of the work’s many ironies that cumulatively leave you with plenty to think about after the robots have powered down for the night.”
“The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is delighted to collaborate with the Dallas Opera on this tremendously exciting project,” said Nicole G. Small, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer for the Museum. “Tod Machover’s creative output encompasses a unique blend of technological innovation and musical artistry, while also consistently demonstrating to young people wherever he goes that science and engineering can be positively thrilling and genuinely cool. And we’re so pleased that Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny understands—as we do—that life and learning have no set limits and, ultimately, take many forms.”
The Chicago Tribune gave the new work four stars: “Death and the Powers is a must-see for anybody who cares about the exciting new techno-driven direction music theater is taking in the early 21st century.”
“The Dallas Opera continues to do groundbreaking work and with its innovative use of technology, is sure to excite fans and introduce new audiences to opera,” said Doug Curtis, president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. “We are thrilled that the stunning Winspear Opera House, Moody Chandelier and Dallas Opera’s work will be experienced around the world.”
The Dallas Opera production of DEATH AND THE POWERS is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. As always, there will be no charge for tickets to attend the simulcast at any location or venue outside the Winspear Opera House.