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Event gallery: Death and the Powers Production Photos - Patricia Risley
Event gallery: Death and the Powers Production Photos - Patricia Risley

Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera

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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.

Notable dates

 

Discussions

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 >>

Rebecca Gold Milikowsky and Nathan Milikowsky; Don and Susan Ware

Restaurant Parnters: Rustic Kitchen

Photos & Videos

Press

Credits

Staff

Choreography

Karole Armitage

Choreography

Karole Armitage

A.R.T.: Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera. Artistic Director of the Armitage Gone! Dance Company based in New York, and renowned for pushing the boundaries to create contemporary works that blend dance, music, and art. Armitage has choreographed for major dance companies throughout Europe and the U.S. and has directed opera for leading European houses. She was director of the Florence Ballet (1996–2000), the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Dance (2001), and was resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine (2000–2005). She is known for her collaborations with important contemporary artists, such as Jeff Koons, Brice Marden, filmmaker James Ivory, and pop icons Madonna and Michael Jackson. She has also created choreography for a William Wegman dog and choreographed the Cirque du Soleil production AmaLuna in 2012, directed by Diane Paulus. Armitage received a Tony nomination for her Broadway choreography of Hair (2009), also directed by Diane Paulus, after making her Broadway debut with Passing Strange (2008), also filmed by Spike Lee. She received the French honor Commandeur dans L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She danced with Balanchine’s Geneva Ballet (1973–1975) and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1976–1981).

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Costume Design

David C. Woolard

Costume Design

David C. Woolard

Award-winning costume designer whose credits extend from Broadway to avant-garde theater. His Broadway credits include West Side Story directed by Arthur Laurents, Dividing the Estate, The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin, Old Aquaintances, 700 Sundays with Billy Crystal, The Rocky Horror Show (2001 Tony Award nomination, Hewes Award), The Who’s Tommy (1993 Tony and Olivier Award nominations), Damn Yankees and A Few Good Men. He has also designed at Santa Fe Opera (A Dream Play), New York City Opera (Don Giovanni) and San Francisco Opera (Cosi Fan Tutti). He has designed for almost every major theater company in America including The Donkey Show at A.R.T and recently won a second Hewes Award for The Orphan Home Cycle at Signature Theatre in New York. Currently he is designing Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s King Henry Part 2.

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Lighting Design

Donald Holder

Lighting Design

Donald Holder

Don Holder is celebrated for his innovative lighting design in projects and productions ranging from opera to experimental theater to Broadway. Based in New York, he is on the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, California) where he is Head of Lighting Design. His opera credits include Grendel (L.A. Opera and Lincoln Center Festival, NY), The Magic Flute (NYC Metropolitan Opera), Salome (Kirov Opera), Moby Dick (world premiere: Dallas Opera) and The End of The Affair (Houston Grand Opera). A selection of his acclaimed Broadway productions includes South Pacific (2008 Tony Award, Henry Hewes Award); Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (Fall 2010); Promises, Promises; Come Fly Away; Oleanna; The Lion King (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle awards); Ragtime, Movin’ Out, Les Liasons Dangereuses, Gem of The Ocean, A Streetcar Named Desire, Juan Darien (all Tony nominated); Cyrano de Bergerac; Radio Golf; The Little Dog Laughed; Thoroughly Modern Millie; and The Boy From Oz. Holder has also designed at resident theaters across the United States. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

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Sound Design

Chris Full

Sound Design

Chris Full

Chris Full has worked on many West End musicals and productions across Europe such as City of Angels, Five Guys Named Moe, Les Misérables, Cats and Chess; West End and touring productions of Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You, Return to the Forbidden Planet, She Loves Me, Fame, Voyeurz, Copacabana, Song and Dance, Grease, Oliver!, Fosse and Soul Train. He has also worked on many arena events and has won awards for live television broadcasts. In the West End, Full has designed, amongst other shows, Ragtime (award-nominated), The Gondoliers, Nixon’s Nixon, Grand Hotel, Sweeney Todd (acclaimed on Broadway) and Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Recently, he designed the Evita UK tour and the latest West End production of Guys and Dolls for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award. He is currently working on Walking with Dinosaurs and The Sonics Space Ship at Tate London.

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Visual and Software Design

Peter Torpey

Visual and Software Design

Peter Torpey

Peter Torpey is a doctoral candidate and research assistant in the Opera of the Future group at the MIT Media Lab. Drawing from his background in film and video, theater, computer science and music, Torpey’s research interests include creating interactive systems for expressive media, arts and performance.

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Media Design

Matt Checkowski

Media Design

Matt Checkowski

Matt Checkowski is a filmmaker and designer. His work has been widely seen and highly acclaimed, including the dream sequences for Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, the branding of the inaugural launch of ESPN "Monday Night Football," a documentary on the making of the Rock Band video game, and his feature film directorial debut for Summit Entertainment, Lies & Alibis, starring Steve Coogan and Rebecca Romijn, with Selma Blair, James Brolin, Sam Elliott, John Leguizamo, James Marsden, Debi Mazar and Henry Rollins. As the founder and creative director of The Department of the 4th Dimension, Checkowski and his multidisciplinary team develop content that connects dynamic brands with digital audiences.

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Sound Technology

Ben Bloomberg

Sound Technology

Ben Bloomberg

Ben Bloomberg is an undergraduate computer science major at MIT who specializes in advanced surround sound and spatialization systems for live entertainment. He has been captivated by audio and live sound since the age of 9 and has had the incredible opportunity to work all over the world during his three years at MIT.

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Associate Director

Andrew Eggert

Associate Director

Andrew Eggert

A.R.T.: Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera (Associate Director). Opera: Productions at Chicago Opera Theater, Boston Lyric Opera, Guerilla Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Omaha, Gotham Chamber Opera. Training programs include Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Opera. Education: B.A., Yale University. M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Columbia University. Eggert is currently Head of Opera at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

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Cast

Simon Powers

James Maddalena

Simon Powers

James Maddalena

James Maddalena first gained international recognition for the title role of John Adams’ Nixon in China, a role he reprised for his Metropolitan Opera debut last month. Since then, he has appeared with many of the world’s leading opera companies and orchestras including San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Glyndebourne, the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent collaborator with director Peter Sellars in Mozart operas and works by Haydn, Handel and Adams. Known for his work in contemporary music, he has premiered works of John Harbison (Four Psalms, Chicago Symphony), Stewart Wallace (Harvey Milk, Houston Grand Opera; Bonesetter’s Daughter, San Francisco Opera), Paul Moravec (The Letter, Santa Fe Opera), Louis Spratlan (Life Is A Dream, Santa Fe Opera), Elliot Goldenthal (Fire Water Paper, Pacific Symphony) and Mark Adamo (Little Women, Houston Grand Opera). James Maddalena has recorded for Decca/London, BMG, Classical Catalyst, Nonesuch, Teldec, Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi and EMI. He is on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Nixon In China (Nonesuch) and the Emmy Award-winning PBS telecast, now on DVD.

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Evvy

Emily Albrink

Hailed by the New York Times as "delightful and vocally strong and versatile," Emily Albrink is a soprano whose young career already sports collaborations with artists such as James Levine, Robert Spano, Jake Heggie and Dawn Upshaw. She begins the season with her Kentucky Opera debut as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, returns to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, conducted by Marin Alsop, and makes her Alice Tully Hall debut singing Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas. Albrink is a 2010 alumna of the Doming-Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera where performances included Frasquita in Carmen, Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, and both Barbarina and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. Noted past performances include Nuria in Ainadamar with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, soprano soloist in Brahms’ Requiem in Beijing and Shanghai, China, and Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, conducted by Levine.

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Miranda

Sara Heaton

Miranda

Sara Heaton

Sara Heaton had her professional debut as Despina in Così fan tutte (Boston Baroque Orchestra). With Opera Boston, she gave "a lovely vocal performance" as the "sexy" and "alluring" gypsy Esmeralda in The Bartered Bride. She was recently seen as a Woodsprite in Rusalka (Boston Lyric Opera) and as Adele in Die Fledermaus (Opera Providence). In the competition circuit, she has been a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera competition, a finalist in the Giulio Gari Competition, and a semi-finalist in the Competizione dell’opera in Germany. She is also a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. This summer she will join the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singer Program.

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Nicholas

Hal Cazalet

Nicholas

Hal Cazalet

Tenor Hal Cazalet trained at the Guildhall School of Music, London and Juilliard Opera Centre, where he won the Shoshanna Foundation Award. Roles in world premiere operas include Nicholas in Death and the Powers at the Monte Carlo Opera, Gerard in Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles (BAM Opera House) and Charles in The Music Programme (Royal Opera House 2). In concert, he made his Lincoln Center debut performing Tristan Keuris’ L’Infinito and has performed with the New York Festival of Song at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and at London’s Wigmore Hall. He also performed at the Kennedy Center as Mr. Angel in The Impresario with the NSO under Christopher Hogwood. Other credits include Cascada in The Merry Widow (English National Opera) and Albert in Albert Herring (Glyndebourne Touring Opera). Future engagements include the role of Prunier in La Rondine for Opera Holland Park and Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore (Opera North).

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The United WAy

Douglas Dodson

The United WAy

Douglas Dodson

Douglas Dodson, an "unusually sparkling countertenor" (Kansas City Star), is originally from Spearfish, South Dakota. A performer of early as well as modern music, Dodson has been featured as a soloist in concert and chamber works by Adès, Bernstein and Britten, as well as the concert repertoire of baroque composers including Bach, Buxtehude, Carissimi, Handel, Pergolesi, Telemann and Vivaldi. His operatic credits include roles in well-known pieces by Handel (Giulio Cesare and Semele) and Purcell (Dido and Aeneas), as well as more obscure works by Monteverdi (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), Purcell (fully staged productions of his semi-operas Dioclesian and The Fairy Queen) and Johann Georg Conradi (the second modern production of his 1691 singspiel Die schöne und getreue Ariadne). Recent performances include the 1731 version of Handel’s Rinaldo with Opera Vivente in Baltimore, Maryland.

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The United Nations

David Kravitz

The United Nations

David Kravitz

Baritone David Kravitz has been widely praised for the "power, character" and "resonance and fluency" of his singing (Boston Globe; Opera News), his "brilliantly natural" acting and "perfect comic timing" (Boston Globe; St. Louis Post-Dispatch), his "eloquent" and "superb" diction (Boston Phoenix; Boston Herald), and his "drop-dead musicianship" (Boston Globe) on both the operatic and the concert stages. In the 2010–11 season, Mr. Kravitz sings the Businessman in Intermezzo for his debut at New York City Opera, and appears as the United Nations Delegate in the world premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers at Opéra de Monte-Carlo, with subsequent performances of the work that season at Chicago Opera Theater and in Boston in a production by the American Repertory Theater. He also returns to Opera Boston as the Provost Marshall and Gold Merchant in Hindemith’s rarely performed Cardillac, sings Handel’s Messiah for his debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, covers Matthias Goerne in Britten’s War Requiem led by Seiji Ozawa and appears as Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress with Emmanuel Music. He closes the season as Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri with Boston Midsummer Opera.

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The Administration

Tom McNichols

The Administration

Tom McNichols

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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 

Orchestra

Flute/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

Robot Mechanical Design

Bob Hsiung

Bob Hsiung’s unconventional career path started out with his designing miniature robots for industrial inspection applications. He later moved to Taiwan where he worked as a freelance writer and graphic designer before leading a team to design interactive multimedia educational products for children. Prior to joining the Death and the Powers team, Hsiung was living and working in the remote mountains of Lesotho as the technical lead for an organization building HIV/MDRTB clinics.

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Robotic Control Systems

Michael Miller

Robotic Control Systems

Michael Miller

Michael Miller is a recent MIT graduate exploring the convergence of music composition, sound and computer science. Alongside recent commissions for film scores, he is also a software engineer commercially developing next-generation equipment for audio professionals.

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Interaction Design

Elena Jessop

Interaction Design

Elena Jessop

Elena Jessop is a doctoral student in the Opera of the Future research group at the MIT Media Lab, where she is currently researching new technologies for performance capture and expressive gestural interaction. She did her undergraduate studies at Amherst College, where she was a double major in Computer Science and Theater & Dance, and has experience with a wide range of performing arts including stage and costume design, choreography and choral conducting.

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Assistant Director

Allegra Libonati

Assistant Director

Allegra Libonati

A.R.T.: The Pirate Princess, The Light Princess, Hansel and Gretel (Director); The Snow Queen (Director/Adapter); The Donkey Show (Resident Director); The Tempest, Prometheus Bound (Associate Director), Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Best of Both Worlds (Assistant Director). OBERON: Once In Hell: Dante’s Inferno in 10 Dinner Courses; Matchmaker, Matchmaker, I’m Willing to Settle: A Musical Guide to Internet Dating. Broadway: HAIR (Assistant Director, Tony Award-winning Revival). Summer Theater of New Canaan: South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Carousel, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, H4 (an original adaptation of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2).

 

 

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Assistant Lighting Designer

Rebecca Makus

Production Stage Manager

Nancy Harrington

Production Stage Manager

Nancy Harrington

A.R.T.: ExtraOrdinary, Waitress, Finding Neverland, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and BessPrometheus BoundDeath and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Children of Herakles. Broadway/National Tour: Finding Neverland, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, HAIR, The Full Monty, I Am My Own Wife. Other projects with Diane Paulus include: Capeman; Turnadot: The Rumble For The Ring; Collaborator of Bill Irwin for 28 years, one of the creators of the Tony Award-winning Fool Moon, Largely New York, The Regard of Flight.

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Stage Manager

Julie Baldauff

A.R.T.: ExtraOrdinary, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Children of Herakles. Broadway: The Play That Goes Wrong, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Color Purple, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, HAIR, The Wedding Singer, I Am My Own Wife, The Little Foxes, The Rehearsal, Summer and Smoke, Getting Away with Murder. Regional: Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Monaco and Chicago.

 

 

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Stage Manager

Carolyn Boyd

A.R.T.: Sleep No More, Let Me Down Easy. New York: Sleep No More, productions with Lincoln Center, Atlantic Theater Company. International: Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera. Regional: Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Ballet, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Hangar Theater. B.F.A. in Stage Management from Boston University College of Fine Arts.

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Stage Manager

Dana Stremming

Now in her third season with Chicago Opera Theater, Dana Stremming is thrilled to be a part of the American premiere of Death and the Powers. Previously, she has worked at The San Francisco Opera, Opera Omaha, The Santa Fe Opera, as well as in various musical theater productions in both stage management and properties. Stremming is a 2007 graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists. She would like to thank all involved in Death and the Powers, especially Jerry Tietz and Bradley Vernatter for the opportunity. She would also like to send love and thanks to her ever-supportive parents and boyfriend, Nickolas.

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Technology Development

Opera of the Future Group, MIT Media Lab