Tod Machover

Death and the Powers

Tod Machover  Death and the Powers

source: dallasoperaorg

Science fiction and poignant family drama combine in one of the most stunning, cutting-edge operas of the 21st century, with a libretto by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, coming to the stage of the Winspear Opera House in a production directed by Diane Paulus, designed by Alex McDowell (Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report) and conducted by Nicole Paiement (TDO’s The Lighthouse).

This visually spectacular robot pageant by MIT Media Lab’s Tod Machover tells the story of a terminally ill billionaire, sung by Robert Orth, who downloads his consciousness into “the System” and proceeds to use all his powers to persuade his loved ones to join him there. Without bodies, without the possibility of touch, sex, suffering, and death — are we still genuinely human?

Explore these existential questions and much more in a piece Variety described as “playful, lyrical and…mesmerizing.” Also starring Joélle Harvey as Miranda, Patricia Risley as Evvy, and Hal Cazalet in his Dallas Opera debut as Nicholas.

The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks for Carmen will be given by Michael Heaston one hour before each performance in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House.

Synopsis

Prologue

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.”

Memory Download

Each robot now begins a complete transformation into its human character. There is a download of information including fragments of personality and memories. One by one, the human characters emerge from the robots, ready to enact the drama: Simon Powers—a billionaire entrepreneur obsessed with his death. Mid-sixties. Mad, eccentric, charismatic, virile, successful. Has a devilish side to him, mischievous. Miranda—Simon’s daughter. Late teens. The daughter of a previous marriage. Special, prescient. Antigone, Cordelia. Nicholas—Simon’s protégé. Grad student age: twenties. When a child, rescued by Simon from ward for severely disabled children. Now moves like an agile machine. Evvy—Simon’s third wife, her first marriage. Thirties. Glamorous, sexy, but wary.

Scene 1: Simon and The System

In the home of Simon Powers, the final preparations are being made for Simon’s total immersion into The System. This technology will allow him to control the physical environment after his death, meaning that he will be able to forever be in touch with his loved ones, manipulate his businesses, and propagate his legacy. Simon is excited, giddy, like a child. Miranda is afraid. Evvy is trying to be practical, trying to stay calm, indulgent of her husband’s behavior in spite of her own anxieties. Nicholas is serious, sweating, focused on his work, his eye on the clock. As the time approaches for Simon to enter The System, they all chant: “The matter is mortal, The System lives on.” Simon quotes poetry by William Butler Yeats (“Once out of nature”) and May Swenson (“Body my house my horse my hound, What will I do when you are fallen”), and then gleefully declares that The System will allow him to be more immortal than mere poets. Simon finally enters The System, saying to the others: “See you later!” Evvy wonders “What now?”, and they are plunged into darkness.

Scene 2: System Soliloquy

Simon gradually transmogrifies into The System. The physical environment subtly takes on many of Simon’s characteristics, moving and vibrating as if he were alive. Simon’s voice is heard in short phrases and fragments (“Remember. No matter the matter—I did that.”) that capture the essence of his life’s memories, feelings and experiences. By the end of this scene, there is no trace left of Simon’s human body. His voice is heard asserting over and over: “I am the same.”

Scene 3: Getting to Know You

Time has passed. The System is humming—in quiet mode—resting. Miranda and Nicholas are in the room, as the walls continue to stir mysteriously, enticingly. It becomes an animated environment, expressive of Simon’s physical presence. Nicholas assures Miranda that it truly is Simon in The System. Nicholas displays his own mechanical arm and explains to Miranda that the new technology is “Like my left arm that is mine, not me.” Nicholas and Miranda can hear Simon’s voice, and they discover that Simon has the ability to interact with them. Simon announces that although he is now in The System, he still has all his previous powers: “And I have billions of bucks. And I can still sign checks.”

Scene 4: Evvy’s Touch

It is the middle of the night. Evvy enters in a daze, as in a dream, sleepwalking. Simon now inhabits The Chandelier, which vibrates with delicate music. They share a memory. Evvy asks, “Simon, do you remember the first time we danced?” and vivid sensory details of the experience come flooding back to them both. Simon assures Evvy that his appetite for life is endless and that he will always desire more, as Evvy strokes the Chandelier and conjures new sounds to envelope Simon’s voice. She calls out to Simon, “Touch me,” as Simon’s voice in The Chandelier endlessly repeats “More.” From a memory of love in the past comes a renewal of erotic passion, melding Evvy’s physicality with Simon’s new form.

Scene 5: Nicholas and the Robots

Nicholas is in his lab, inhabited by the robots he has been building as part of The System. The robots start moving to the music emanating from the walls, then come to life and start dancing with Nicholas. Miranda is archiving and exploring The System, and is also reflecting on life outside the family compound and The System: “How are we linked to all the rest of the earth?” Nicholas tells Miranda the story of how Simon came and rescued him from a children’s ward when he was a young boy and gave him a new life. Nicolas swears he will repay the favor: “Now I’ll help him live in The System. Without a body, post-organic like me.”

Scene 6: The World Reacts

A new, stranger atmosphere: Miranda, Nicholas, and Evvy are apparently accustomed to it. Evvy is now wearing headphones, swaying a little as if to music, nodding and tilting her head as though channeling Simon’s presence. A delegation from the outside world—composed of The United Way, The United Nations, and The Administration—arrives and wishes to speak with Simon. The whole world has been plunged into a state of war and famine ever since Simon entered The System. When Miranda brings in the delegation, they implore: “What is the meaning of your behavior? We demand an answer!” Simon refuses to answer them and instead quotes a passage of German poetry (“O Röschen rot! … Man lies in deepest need. Man lies in deepest pain. Yes, I would rather be in Heaven”). This only further confuses the delegates. After Nicholas reads a strange report from one of Simon’s newspapers (“Group of Young Men Beat Nurse to Death”), the delegation is finally sent away. Left alone, Miranda reflects on her own feelings of isolation now that her father has entered The System: “I miss having a father like any other person.”

Scene 7: Into The System

Everything—the walls, The Chandelier, the robots—is working together. Simon seems to be everywhere, inhabiting them all, omnipotent. Evvy finally removes the headphones and tells Nicholas and Miranda that she has been channeling Simon: “I’ve been listening to Simon. It’s like when we fell in love … You can jump. You can fall forever, and do it again.” Now it is Evvy and Nicholas who are transformed, as they too are absorbed into The System. Only Miranda is left to face the outside world.

Scene 8: Miseries, Memory, and Miranda

Miranda is surrounded by a parade of the world’s Miseries: the victims of famine, torture, crime, and disease. In the wake of the Miseries, the figure of Simon, in some version or simulacrum of his human body, emerges from the shadows. Miranda and Simon have a final confrontation, in which Simon explains why he chose to live in The System: “Now there’s no help but evolving, out of the meat and into The System. It isn’t the many and the few—it’s yourself, it’s you!” He beckons to Miranda: “Come into the world of light.” Miranda is unsure whether she should follow Simon into The System. She has lingering doubts: “The body of this death is who I am, it is my mind … Who will I be? And what will I see when my body is gone?” Simon enters back into The System. Miranda hesitates. She turns towards the audience, repeating a soaring high note as sound swirls around her: “Who? What? When? How? Light. Death. Alone. Alive. Live.” Light grows to a blinding level. Music emanates in all directions from Miranda’s voice, filling the space and extending well beyond.

Epilogue

The System dematerializes into a Matrix of Light. The robots reform into a regular grid and begin to light. The robots discuss the drama they have enacted, but they are left with unanswered questions about the meaning of death. The robot leader assures the others: “Questions are excellent.” The chorus of robots concludes: “Now is the time for the ordained ritual to come to rest.” After a few flickers and pulsations of sound and shadow, all gently fades away.

MIT Media Lab

Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. It creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable, electric car for sustainable cities, to advanced imaging technologies that can “see around a corner.” The Lab is committed to looking beyond the obvious to ask the questions not yet asked–questions whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play.
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source: operamediamitedu

Death and the Powers is a new opera by composer Tod Machover and developed at the MIT Media Lab. It is a one-act, full-evening work that tells the story of Simon Powers, a successful and powerful businessman and inventor, reaching the end of his life and facing the question of his legacy. He is now conducting his final experiment, passing from one form of existence to another in an effort to project himself into the future. Simon Powers is himself now a System. His family, friends, and associates must decide what this means, whether or not he is actually alive, how it affects them, and whether to follow.
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source: webmediamitedu
Or touch sound? Or to have sound touch you so deeply that it can change your mind, your body, your life?

Tod Machover certainly thinks so, and his work over the past 30 years demonstrates an extraordinary range and diversity that enhances our definition of music itself and our conception of what it can achieve. Called “America’s Most Wired Composer” by The Los Angeles Times, Machover is widely recognized as one of the most significant and innovative composers of his generation, and is also celebrated for inventing new technologies for music, including Hypersinstruments which he launched at the MIT Media Lab in 1986.

Whether it is creating genre-breaking compositions for the concert hall, “robotic” operas for worldwide stages, software that allows anyone to compose original music, or musical activities that can diagnose illness and restore health, Tod Machover’s unique vision is shaping the future of music, while producing work after work that touch the hearts of audiences here and now.
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source: brahmsircamfr
Tod Machover obtint son diplôme de composition musicale à la Juilliard School, où il a étudié avec Elliott Carter et Roger Sessions. Il a travaillé à l’Ircam de 1978 à 1984 comme responsable du département de recherche musicale. Depuis 1985, il travaille à l’Institut de technologie du Massachussets (MIT), où il est professeur associé de Music and Media et directeur du Experimental Media Facility.

Quelques œuvres de Tod Machover sont des commandes ou des créations de l’Ircam et de l’Ensemble intercontemporain, y compris Light (1979), Nature’s Breath (1985), et son opéra Valis, qui fut créé à l’occasion du dixième anniversaire du Centre Georges-Pompidou en décembre 1987. Valis a depuis été produit aux Etats-Unis et au Japon, et publié en disque compact.

Les œuvres les plus récentes de Tod Machover incluent Song of Penance pour hyperalto et grand ensemble, commandée par l’Orchestre philharmonique de Los Angeles et Bounce pour hyperclaviers, commandée par Yamaha Corporation. Au-delà de la composition musicale, Tod Machover se consacre à la recherche encourageant et développant la créativité humaine et l’expression par le biais de la technologie.

Tod Machover travaille actuellement sur deux nouveaux projets d’opéra : Boom Generation, en collaboration avec le metteur en scène Peter Sellars et l’écrivain Wanda Coleman, dont la première est prévue au Grand opéra de Houston en janvier 1995 ; et un opéra interactif, Brain Opera, développé avec le directeur Roy Faudree et dont la présentation aura lieu aux Jeux olympiques d’Atlanta, en 1996.
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source: radiopilatusch

Gilt als einer der signifikantesten und innovativsten Komponisten unserer Generation. Seit 30 Jahren demonstriert er mit seiner Musik eine aussergewöhnliche stilistische Bandbreite, die dazu beigetragen hat, die Definition der Musik selbst und ihre Wirkung auf die Gesellschaft weiterzuentwickeln.

Machover ist für seine innovativen Werke bekannt wie zum Beispiel die Roboter-Oper „Death and the Powers“, die für den Pulitzer Preis 2012 in der finalen Auswahl stand. Seit 2012 arbeitet Machover an einer Serie von Stadt-Sinfonien, so entstanden in Toronto, Edinburgh und Perth (Australien) ähnliche Sinfonien wie die geplante in Luzern.

Er wurde 1953 in New York geboren, studierte an der Juilliard School bei Elliott Carter und wirkte an Pierre Boulez‘ IRCAM in Paris als Composer-In-Residence und als erster Director of Musical Research.
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source: finslab

Tod Machover, é um compositor e um inovador na aplicação da tecnologia na música. Ele é o filho de Wilma Machover, um pianista e Carl Machover, um cientista da computação.

Frequentou a Universidade da Califórnia em Santa Cruz em 1971 e recebeu uma BM e MM pela Juilliard School, em Nova York, onde estudou com Elliott Carter e Roger Sessions. Ele também iniciou seus estudos de doutorado na Juilliard antes de ser convidado como Compositor em Residência para nova Institut de Pierre Boulez de Recherche et Coordenação Acoustique / Musique, em 1978. Ele foi nomeado Diretor de Pesquisa Musical no IRCAM em 1980. Juntando-se ao corpo docente do novo Laboratório de Mídia do Instituto de Tecnologia de Massachusetts, em 1985, tornou-se Professor de Música e Mídia e Diretor do Mecanismo Experimental de mídia. Atualmente Professor de Música e Mídia do MIT Media Lab, ele é o chefe da Lab Hyperinstruments / Ópera do grupo Futuro e foi Director Co das coisas que pensamos e Brinquedos de consórcios Amanhã desde 1995. Em 2006, ele foi nomeado Visitando Professor de Composição na Royal Academy of Music, em Londres. Compôs obras significativas para Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Matt Haimovitz, o Ying Quartet, a Boston Pops, o Los Angeles Philharmonic, Penn & amp; Teller, e muitos outros, bem como vários sistemas interactivos concebidos e implementados para o desempenho por Peter Gabriel e Prince. Machover deu uma palestra de abertura na NIME 02, a Segunda Conferência Internacional sobre Novas Interfaces de Expressão Musical, que foi realizada em 2002, o ex-Media Lab Europa em Dublin, na Irlanda, e é palestrante frequente em todo o mundo. Machover é um finalista para o Prêmio Pulitzer em 2012 Música para sua ópera “Morte e os Poderes.”

História

No outono de 1978, a Tod Machover chegou no IRCAM em Paris, e foi introduzido para o digital sintetizador 4 séries de Giuseppe di Giugno. Luz foi estreada no Festival de Metz em novembro de 1979 usando 4C, o cérebro da criança conceito de Giugno di que “sintetizadores devem ser feitas para os músicos, e não para as pessoas que os fazem.” . Em 1981, ele compôs Fusione fugace para performance solo em um sintetizador digital em tempo real, chamado de máquina de 4X. No IRCAM 1986 e 1987, ele foi motivado o gol para o teclado e percussão dueto com ênfase na ampliação seu desempenho em muitas camadas de sons complexos. Compôs Valis, mais uma vez usando o sistema de 4X di Giugno para processar vozes. Este desejo de melhorar o desempenho humano prenunciou o seu conceito de hyperinstrument. No Media Lab do MIT, desenvolveu métodos para tomar muitas medidas mais sofisticadas do instrumento, bem como a expressão do performer. Ele se concentrou em aumentar instrumentos de teclado, percussão, cordas, até mesmo o ato de conduzir, com o objetivo de desenvolver e implementar novas tecnologias a fim de ampliar a função dos instrumentos musicais e seus artistas. Ele impulsionado a pensar a pesquisa no campo da performance musical e interação utilizando novos recursos musicais e tecnológicas. Originalmente concentrada para a melhoria do desempenho virtuosística, investigação evoluiu em uma direção de construção de instrumentos musicais interativas sofisticadas para os músicos não profissionais, crianças e público em geral.