Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera
A.R.T. Season
March 18, 2011 through March 25, 2011
"An evening of captivating electronic invention."
Opera News

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., Tod Machover's 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 L.A. 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 received its world premiere in Monaco in the fall of 2010, is supported by Futurum Association (Monaco), and will be presented in collaboration with Chicago Opera Theater, in association with Opera Boston.

Audiences love Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera: 

Audiences love Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera

Audience members are "wow"-ed by Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera.

Music by Tod Machover
Libretto by Robert Pinsky
Directed by Diane Paulus
Conducted by Gil Rose
Production design by Alex McDowell
Choreography Karole Armitage
Costume Design David C. Woolard
Lighting Design Donald Holder
Sound Design Chris Full
Visual and Software Design Peter Torpey
Media Design Matt Checkowski
Sound Technology Ben Bloomberg
Associate Director Andrew Eggert


Simon Powers James Maddalena
Evvy Emily Albrink
Miranda Sara Heaton
Nicholas Hal Cazalet
The United Way Douglas Dodson
The United Nations David Kravitz
The Administration Tom McNichols

The Miseries


Yavni Bar–Yam, Julie Chilton, Rachel Coffin, Maru Colbert, Erin Cole, Pete Cormier, Becki Dennis, Kevin Fennessy, Andrea Foertsch, Lori Forman, Laura Hubbard, Olga Karagiozi, George King, Taya Leary, Diana Librizzi, Emily Lonardo, Meg Di Maggio, Maggie Morio, Rebecca Perry, Matt Phillipps, Oliver L. Saffery, Rebecca Schneebaum, John A. Shane, Bob Stachel, Jeff Q, Julia C. Tenney, Lauren Thomas, Larry Vigus, Amy West, Casey Wright, Alina Wysocki 

Chorus of Operabots



Flue/Piccolo Sarah Brady
Oboe/English Horn Jennifer Slowik
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet Michael Norsworthy
French Horn Whitacre Hill
Trumpet Terry Everson
Trombone Hans Bohn
Tuba Kenneth Amis
Percussion Robert Schulz
Keyboard 1 (including live electronics) John McDonald
Keyboard 2 (including electronic triggers for sound and image) Linda Osborn-Blaschke
Violin I Charles Dimmick
Violin II Annie Rabbat
Viola Joan Ellersick
Cello Nicole Cariglia
Bass Anthony D'Amico

Additional Credits

Manager Sisie Siu Cohen
Robot Mechanical Design Bob Hsiung
Robotic Control Systems Michael Miller
Interaction Design Elena Jessop
Assistant Director Allegra Libonati
Assistant Lighting Designer Rebecca Makus
Production Stage Manager Nancy Harrington
Stage Managers Julie Baldauff
  Carolyn Boyd
  Dana Stremming
Technology Development Opera of the Future Group, MIT Media Lab
Production Team Credits  
"This futuristic musical is to be hailed."
Opéra (Paris)
"Blending acoustic and electronic sounds, symphony orchestra and interactive computers, classical arias and ultra modern rhythms...the music is emotional and brilliant."
Le Monde

"In Tod Machover's new opera, Death and the Powers, high technology meets high anxiety." - Boston Phoenix More

WGBH's "Greater Boston" - A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus is about to have four of her directorial efforts running simultaneously—including Hair, The Donkey Show, Death and the Powers, and Prometheus Bound. More

"Musician/robot enthusiast explains the human themes behind his futuristic opera." - Time Out Boston More

"Ultimately it’s the relationships, the loss, the longing to connect that give this opera its emotional weight." - The Atlantic More

"Having composed pieces for amplified cello and live electronics, Hyperpiano with orchestra and interactive graphics, computer sounds and animated texts, and other electronic wonders, Machover, most noted for his operatic productions, has written a new one, Death and the Powers, which has its American premiere next Friday, March 18" - Boston Musical Intelligencer More

"There’s a decent argument that the true onstage stars of “Death’’ are made of wires, metal, and LED lights. These are the robots, including a dozen “Operabots,’’ as Machover calls them, with plastic, pizza box-shaped heads..." - The Boston Globe More

A note by Peter Torpey, Elena Jessop, and Ben Bloomberg. More

A note from Death and the Powers composer Tod Machover. More

A note from Death and the Powers production designer Alex McDowell. More

A synopsis of Death and the Powers. More


Press Releases

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2011Contact: Kati Mitchell American Repertory Theaterin association with MIT’s FAST Arts FestivalpresentsDEATH...
For Immediate Release August 26, 2010 Contact: Kati Mitchell617-496-2000 x American Repertory TheaterAnnounces Creative Teams for the 2010/11 Season Cambridge, Mass — The...
Contact: Kati For release on Friday, May 7, 2010 American Repertory TheaterAnnounces its 2010/11 Season:CABARET • ALICE vs. WONDERLAND • THE BLUE...

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Tuesday, March 22
Post-show discussion with composer Tod Machover and librettist Robert Pinsky.

Sunday, March 27
An Evening with Robert Pinsky
Join us for an evening with librettist and three-time Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky as he combines poetry with jazz at the A.R.T.'s club theater OBERON. Learn more >>

Performance sponsors:

Rebecca Gold Milikowsky and Nathan Milikowsky; Don and Susan Ware

Restaurant Parnters: Rustic Kitchen