Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant is a new opera by composer Tod Machover at the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the American Repertory Theater. It is a one-act, full evening work that tells the story of Simon Powers, a successful and powerful businessman and inventor, who wants to go beyond the bounds of humanity. 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?” He is now conducting the last experiment of his life, passing from one form of existence to another in an effort to project himself into the future. Whether or not he is actually alive is a question. Simon Powers is himself now a System. His family, friends and associates must decide what this means, how it affects them, and whether to follow. New performance technologies for Death and the Powers are being developed at the MIT Media Lab, including a new technique of Disembodied Performance to translate Simon’s offstage performance into an expressively animated stage. Other novel “instruments” include a Musical Chandelier and a chorus of robots.
COMPOSER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Tod Machover
LIBRETTIST: Robert Pinsky
STORY: Randy Weiner, Robert Pinsky
DIRECTOR: Diane Paulus
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Alex McDowell
CHOREOGRAPHER: Karole Armitage
VISIONARY TECHNOLOGY: MIT Media Lab
World premiere: 24th September 2010, Salle Garnier Monte-Carlo
United States premieres with the American Repertory Theater in Boston and at Chicago Opera Theater (March and April 2011).