Friday, March 18, 2011 | 7:30pm
Sunday, March 20, 2011 | 3:00pm
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | 7:30pm
Friday, March 25, 2011 | 7:30pm

By Tod Machover
Libretto by Robert Pinsky
Story by Robert Pinsky & Randy Weiner
Directed by Diane Paulus
Conducted by Gil Rose

When the eccentric patriarch Simon Powers downloads himself into The System, his entire house comes to life around his family and friends. A groundbreaking new production developed by the MIT Media Lab in partnership with the A.R.T., Death and the Powers explores what we leave behind for the world and our loved ones, using specially designed technology and an expressively animated stage, including a chorus of robots and a musical chandelier. Machover, called "America's most wired composer" by the Los Angeles Times, distinctively blends technological and artistic finesse to create a score that is passionately inventive, yet filled with arching melodic lines. Death and the Powers, which receives its world premiere in Monaco in the fall of 2010, is supported by Futurum Association in Monaco, and will be presented in collaboration with Chicago Opera Theater, in association with Opera Boston.

Tickets are available for purchase online through the American Repertory Theater website or by calling the A.R.T. Box Office at 617.547.8300 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

News and Press

[Concert Review] Review: Death and the Powers/Chicago Opera Theater

Combining all of the art forms as it does in a live setting, opera is the ultimate human creation. A cursory look at the history of the genre reveals that, at its best, opera remains a step ahead of culture whether in the form of the cutting-edge eighteenth-century operas of Mozart, or the nineteenth-century “music dramas” of Wagner, which even managed to foresee much of what became twentieth-century cinema.

Newcity Stage Full review
[Concert Review] COT’s “Death and the Powers” proves a dazzling, thought-provoking multimedia experience

When the eleven robots glide gracefully out on the stage of the Harris Theater to take their curtain call with the cast, composer and conductor of Death and the Powers—and bow their triangular heads in unison—-it’s hard to maintain any lingering objection to Tod Machover’s envelope-pushing, thought-provoking and brilliantly executed opera, a work that raises serious contemporary themes while mostly refusing to take itself too seriously.

Chicago Classical Review Full review
[Concert Review] COT’s dazzling ‘robot opera’ poses provocative new questions

Our wondrous technology could conceivably evolve to the point that it will enable us to shed this mortal coil and achieve a kind of digital immortality. But is living beyond the corporeal world really worth it if we’ve left our souls, our humanity, indeed other people, behind?

Chicago Tribune Full review
[Concert Review] ‘Robots’ Opera’ proves Chicago the next stage in the future of opera

It’s not every opera that has its origins in a visit by a wealthy Iraqi widow from Monaco to a computer lab near Boston.

Chicago Sun-Times Full review
[Concert Review] "Death and the Powers:The Robots’ Opera"

If you missed American Repertory Theater (ART) and MIT’s FAST Arts Festival one-act, 90-minute production of “Death and the Powers:The Robots’ Opera,” I hope it returns, for your sake. You won’t see the likes of it again. Writers Tod Machover, Robert Pinsky and Randy Weiner, with ART Artistic Director-Director Diane Paulus have struck theatrical gold with this innovative, futuristic opera that makes every minute on stage breathtaking.

Theater Mirror Full review
[News Coverage] Cue the robots – opera for digital era arrives at COT

If technology should ever allow us to achieve a kind of digital immortality, what effect will this have on our loved ones, not to mention the moral and social order? That’s just one of the Deep Questions posed by Tod Machover’s sci-fi fantasy, “Death and the Powers, the Robots’ Opera,” which, in its Midwest premiere, will launch Chicago Opera Theater’s spring festival season Saturday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

Ironically, the composer’s cautionary tale of technological hubris is crammed with technology.

Chicago Tribune Full review
[News Coverage] Machover’s “robot opera” to kick off Chicago Opera Theater season

Remember “CNN opera”?

In the 1980s and 1990s, when John Adams was producing works like Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, that became the go-to label for new operas based on stories drawn from the day’s headlines.

“CNN opera’’ isn’t used much any more, now that many stage directors update productions, turning even centuries-old operas–from Monteverdi’s Orfeo to Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, Handel’s Hercules to Mozart’s Don Giovanni–into compelling, contemporary stories.

Chicago Classical Review Full review
[Concert Review] Tod Machover's Death and the Powers

In her director’s note for the American premiere of Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, which was composed by Tod Machover, with a libretto by poet Robert Pinsky, Diane Paulus, artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, wrote that this “work of music-theater . . .

The Boston Phoenix Full review
[Concert Review] Full-bodied arias in a post-organic world

Composer Tod Machover heads the Opera of the Future project at MIT’s Media Lab, and that term nicely describes his “Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera,” which was given its U.S. premiere by the American Repertory Theater in Boston last week. It is clearly recognizable as opera: It has a story and characters, and its full-blooded arias, elegantly illuminating the apt (if occasionally self-conscious) text by the poet Robert Pinsky, are sung with passionate intensity by humans.

The Wall Street Journal Full review
[Concert Review] Death and the Powers, Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston

Technological wonders go only so far towards achieving results in the opera house. Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers: the Robots’ Opera, the latest work by a mainstay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, has a dramatis personae that includes 12 functioning robots. Yet the quality of Machover’s music, steeped in the language of Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez, wedded to an imaginative libretto by Robert Pinsky, is what makes the opera worth seeing.

Financial Times Full review
[Interview] The Man-Machine: Tod Machover’s robot opera at the Cutler Majestic

Would it be hyperbolic to suggest you’ve never see anything quite like this? I don’t think so. Here’s the deal: Simon Powers is the central character of Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera,” up at the Cutler Majestic Theatre Tuesday March 22 & Friday March 25. Like many of us, Powers isn’t too crazy about dying. But Powers, in his 60s and facing the final (or is it?) curtain would like to keep on going in some manner.

Jim Sullivan Ink Full review
[Concert Review] Second Life: Death and the Powers from A.R.T.

Tod Machover’s new sci-fi opera, “Death and the Powers,’’ 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.

Boston Globe Full review
[News Coverage] A.R.T.’s Death and the Powers: The Robot’s Opera Plugs in March 18

The American Repertory Theater production of Death and the Powers: The Robot's Opera, starring baritone James Maddalena, begins performances March 18 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College.

Maddalena, who recently reprised his performance in the title role of Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera, created the role of inventor Simon Powers in the world premiere of Death and the Powers at l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo last September. He returns for the A.R.T. production, which will run through March 25.

Playbill Full review
[News Coverage] Waltham resident’s opera has tech in tune

Tod Machover’s commute from his home in Waltham to the MIT Media Lab might as well be done in a souped-up DeLorean.

The composer and music technology innovator drives from his home, an 18th-century farm next to the Lyman Estate, to the state-of-the-art lab, where some of the most cutting-edge technology is being developed.

It’s not surprising, then, that Machover would be the first to incorporate fully functional robots into the old-world medium of opera in his latest production, “Death and the Powers,” set for its U.S. debut tonight at the Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston.

Wicked Local Waltham Full review
[News Coverage] Powered up and programmed to perform

Several months ago, during a rehearsal for “Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera,’’ a robot began to throb, vibrate, and power down.

A programmer ran onstage with a screwdriver, aiming to fix the machine. But the opera’s director, Diane Paulus, had a different response. She was thrilled. During that moment of unpredictability, the robot had behaved like an actor.

“That’s great,’’ said Paulus. “Can you get it to do that again?’’

Boston Globe Full review
[News Coverage] Nixon in China's James Maddalena to star in Death and the Powers; Diane Paulus directs

Baritone James Maddalena, who recently reprised his performance in the title role of Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera, will star in Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera for the American Repertory Theater.

Maddalena also created the role of inventor Simon Powers in the world premiere of Death and the Powers at l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo last September and will return for the A.R.T. production, which will run March 18-25 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College.

Playbill Full review