Well, right now, ‘global’ means America and Europe — with more locations possibly coming — but still, it is a world’s first: In February, the Dallas Opera will live simulcast Tod Machover’s sci-fi ‘robot opera,’ Death and the Powers, to ten different locations from San Francisco to Stockholm, New York to London. One of those locations will be just down the street and across the Woodall Rogers from the Winspear Opera House: the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
What’s more, this simulcast will be interactive. Patrons anywhere in the world will be able to interact in real-time with the matinee performance on Feb. 16, 2014. Via an app on smartphones, tablets or other handheld devices, they will be able to influence the lighting in the Winspear’s Moody Chandelier and the onstage set’s lighting. Also, via the app, patrons will be able to choose live footage from different ‘perspectives’: a ‘robot’s eye view,’ for instance, or the scene inside the “System,” the giant computer system into which the main character has downloaded his consciousness.
This kind of technological innovation is not surprising, coming from Machover, who teaches at MIT’s famed Media Lab and was the first director of musical research at composer-conductor Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris.
And a final reminder: Single tickets for the DO’s season are subject to ‘dynamic pricing’ — meaning the earlier they’re purchased, the lower the price. And they are on sale now for as little as $19. Season subscriptions start at $76.
The full release follows:
THE DALLAS OPERA PRESENTS OPERA ON A WORLD STAGE!
Death and the Powers:
THE GLOBAL INTERACTIVE SIMULCAST
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.
Tod Machover, called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times, is recognized as one of the most innovative composers of his generation, and is also celebrated for inventing new technologies for music. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. He is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge USA) and is Director of the its Opera of the Future Group. Since 2006, Machover has also been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Tod Machover’s compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including Opera America, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkahian, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, among others from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2010 he received the Arts Prize from the World Technology Network (CNN/Time Inc.), and was Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. He was the first recipient of the Arts Advocacy Award from the National Committee of the Performing Arts in September 2013.
Tod Machover is also recognized for designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public. The popular videogames Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands.
Machover is especially known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic and commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in Paris); Brain Opera (which invites the audience to collaborate live and online); Skellig (based on David Almond’s award-winning novel and premiered at the Sage Gateshead in 2008); and the “robotic” Death and the Powers which premiered in Monaco (at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo under the patronage of Prince Albert II), Boston and Chicago during the 2010/2011 season. Powers will be presented by The Dallas Opera in February 2014, when it will also be streamed live—with interactive enhancements—to selected venues worldwide.
Tod Machover is currently working on a series of “collaborative symphonies” based on a model launched with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in March 2013, and further developed for Festival City at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2013. Upcoming sites include the cities of Perth, Cape Town, and Venice, as well as the countries of Brazil and Switzerland.
Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his own poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including a collection of poems by Czesław Miłosz and Dante Alighieri. He teaches at Boston University and is the poetry editor at Slate.
Robert Pinsky was born on October 20, 1940, in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he attended Long Branch High School. He received a B.A. from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow in creative writing. He was a student of poet & critic Yvor Winters at Stanford. Early on, Pinsky was inspired by the flow and tension of jazz and the excitement that it made him feel. He said it was an incredible experience that he has tried to reproduce in his poetry. The musicality of poetry was and is extremely important to his work.
He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1974, and in 1997 he was named the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, being the first and so far only poet to be named to three terms. He now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.
As Poet Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state share their favorite poems. Pinsky believed that, contrary to stereotype, poetry has a strong presence in the American culture. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry.
Robert Pinsky wrote the libretto for Death and the Powers, a ground-breaking opera by composer Tod Machover. The opera received its world premiere in Monte Carlo in September 2010, and its U.S. premiere at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater in March 2011.
Pinsky is also the author of the interactive fiction game Mindwheel (1984) developed by Synapse Software, released by Broderbund, and guest-starred in a 2002 episode of the animated sitcom The Simpsons TV show, “Little Girl in the Big Ten”, and The Colbert Report in April, 2007, as the judge of a “Meta-Free-Phor-All” between Stephen Colbert and Sean Penn.
About the Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in Dallas, Texas, with campuses in Victory Park and Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The $185 million Victory Park museum, designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, opened to the public December 1, 2012. Just eight months later, on July 12, 2013, the Perot Museum welcomed its millionth visitor through its doors. The Perot Museum is named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot, the result of a $50 million gift made by their five adult children. To learn more about the Perot Museum, please visit perotmuseum.org.
About the AT&T Performing Arts Center
The AT&T Performing Arts Center is a nonprofit foundation that operates and programs three premier performance venues and a 10-acre park for music, opera, theatre and dance in the heart of downtown Dallas. The Center also makes performance art accessible to local students through its education program, Open Stages. Opened in October 2009, the Center helped complete the 30-year vision of the Dallas Arts District. The Center includes:
• The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, designed by Foster + Partners of London in a modern horseshoe configuration, seats 2,200. Its acoustics are considered among the best in the world.
• The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre designed by REX/OMA, Joshua Prince-Ramus (partner in charge) and Rem Koolhaas, seats up to 575 and uses a super-fly system to change rapidly the performance hall’s configuration to proscenium, thrust or flat floor.
• The Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park, designed by Michel Desvigne, is a lush urban park that unifies the Center’s venues.
• Annette Strauss Square, designed by Foster + Partners, is the Center’s outdoor entertainment venue.
• Two underground parking areas accommodate more than 850 vehicles.
The Center’s Resident Companies are: The Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Texas Ballet Theater and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. The Center also has a partnership with TITAS, the premier performing arts presenter in Dallas. More information on the AT&T Performing Arts Center is available at www.attpac.org.