Death and the Powers

Powers header_stage_small
Tod Machover (composer and creative director), Robert Pinsky (librettist), Diane Paulus (director), Alex McDowell (designer), with a team from the MIT Media Lab including Peter Torpey, Elly Jessop, Andy Cavatorta, Wei Dong, Noah Feehan, Bob Hsiung, et al.

Death and the Powers is a new opera by composer Tod Machover under development at the MIT Media Lab. It is a one-act, full evening work scored for an ensemble of specially designed Hyperinstruments, and will include a robotic, animatronic stage – the first of its kind – that will gradually “come alive” as a main character in the drama. The original story is about Simon Powers, a rich, powerful and successful man who wants to go beyond the bounds of humanity. He is the founder of the System, a human organism material experiment which investigates the transduction of human existence into other forms. Reaching the end of his life, Powers faces the question of his legacy: “When I die, what remains? What will I leave behind? What can I control? What can I perpetuate?” As he enters the System, his family must decide whether to join him, and world leaders must decide what to do about the havoc he has left in his wake. A new technique of Disembodied Performance is employed to translate Simon’s offstage performance into an expressively animated stage, consisting of Simon’s library as well as various objects including an imposing Musical Chandelier. The story is framed and complemented by a chorus of “rolling, lurching, and gliding” robots – or Operabots – that attempt to understand the meaning of death. Death and the Powers will be presented in workshop form at Harvard’s A.R.T. Theater in September 2009, and the world premiere will take place at the Monte-Carlo Opera in September 2010.

Under the High Patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, with sponsorship from Opera Futurum Ltd.

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