Death and the Powers
music by Tod Machover
story by Robert Pinsky and Randy Weiner
lyrics by Robert Pinsky
Sung in English with English supertitles
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.
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.”
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.
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. Further information at http://www.media.mit.edu.
Robert Orth (Simon Powers) Robert Orth made his Dallas Opera debut in the world premiere of Moby-Dick in 2010 and returned in 2012 in Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse. Performing new American operas has brought Mr. Orth particular acclaim, including appearances in Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke (based on the Tennessee Williams play), which was broadcast nationally on PBS. He played the Lodger in Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers in its east coast premiere at the Kennedy Center and was the Lecturer in Argento’s one-man opera A Waterbird Talk in Chicago. He created the title role in the world premiere of Wallace and Korie’s Harvey Milk in Houston, and again at New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera. Other premieres include Hagen’s Shining Brow, based on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Dead Man Walking at the San Francisco Opera and Heggie’s The End of the Affair at Houston Grand Opera. He is renowned for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in John Adams’ Nixon in China, which he has performed in St. Louis, Portland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, London and Berlin, and which he recorded. He also created the role of LBJ in the world premiere of Steven Stucky and Gene Scheer’s August 4, 1964 with the Dallas Symphony.
Joélle Harvey (Miranda) Joélle Harvey made her Dallas Opera debut as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 2008. She has appeared with Portland Opera as “Flora” in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (a role which later also served as her debut with Houston Grand Opera) and was in Jonathan Miller’s new production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at Glimmerglass Festival. She made her debut at New York City Opera as Zerlina in Christopher Alden’s new production of Don Giovanni. Her 2010-2011 season included a return engagement with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for Carmina Burana, performances of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah in Spain, Dido and Aeneas at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Werther with Washington Concert Opera and she created the role of Miranda in the world premiere of Death and the Powers at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. She made her debut with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, with subsequent performances at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice; and has also sung Handel’s Saul at London’s Barbican, which she also recorded. She debuted at the Glyndebourne Festival in Purcell’sThe Fairy Queen, and later performed Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Glyndebourne on tour. She has also sang in Handel’s Radamisto at Carnegie Hall. Her debut with the New York Philharmonic was in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat.
Patricia Risley (Evvy) Patricia Risley, who returns to the Dallas Opera after her debut with the company in Götterdämmerung, created the role of Evvy Powers in Death and the Powers in the world premiere at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Also this season, she returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Tisbe in La cenerentola, where she has previously sung such roles as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Tebaldo in Don Carlo, Altichiara in Francesca da Rimini, and Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi. Other performances include Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at Berlin’s Staatsoper, Siebel in Faust, Stephano in Roméo et Juliette and Meg Page in Falstaff at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dorabella in Così fan tutte at Madrid’s Teatro Real and with the Santa Fe Opera, Sesto in Giulio Cesare and Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette at Houston Grand Opera and the title role in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera. Previous productions of contemporary repertoire include the world premieres of Bolcom’s A Wedding at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Pasatieri’s Frau Margot with Fort Worth Opera, in addition to performances of Harbison’s The Great Gatsby at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Ades’ The Tempest with the Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.
Hal Cazalet (Nicholas) Tenor Hal Cazalet makes his Dallas Opera debut with these performances of Death and the Powers. He divides his time between the United States and Europe performing in opera, musical theatre and cabaret. Engagements have included Ruddigore for Opera North, Gerard in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Les Enfants Terribles at BAM in New York, the world premiere of The Music Programme for Polish National Opera, Warsaw and at London’s Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio, the title role in Albert Herring for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, La Rondine for Opera Holland Park, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Abduction from the Seraglio, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Turn of the Screw for English Touring Opera, Let’s Make an Opera at the Aldeburgh Festival, Tobias and the Angel at the Young Vic, MacHeath in Threepenny Opera at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, The Merry Widow for English National Opera, Mr Angel in Mozarts L’Impressario at The Kennedy , DC with the NSO under Christopher Hogwood and as Nicholas in the world premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers in Monte Carlo, and subsequently in Boston and Chicago. Mr Cazalet has also performed in concert with The New York Festival of Song at London’s Wigmore Hall and at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, and in Cabaret with Tim Rice and Stephen Fry. As a composer/Lyricist he has had works performed at the Santa Fe and Aspen Music festivals and performed on BBC Radio. He is just written a new musical on Wilde’s fairytale The Happy Prince.
Frank Kelley (The United Way) Frank Kelley makes his debut with Dallas Opera in Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, a role he performed at the opera’s world premiere at Opéra de Monte Carlo. Mr. Kelley’s performances with Boston Lyric Opera include performances in Eugene Onegin, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and Die Zauberflöte. With Opera Boston he has appeared in La vie parisienne, The Consul and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. His other recent operatic appearances include Grandpa Joe in the world premiere of Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the European premiere at the Wexford Festival. Mr. Kelley appeared in the PBS broadcasts of Peter Sellars’ productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. He also has long associations with Boston’s premier concert organizations, including multiple performances with Emmanuel Music under the direction of Craig Smith, Christopher Hogwood, and Seiji Ozawa; the Handel and Haydn Society; Boston Baroque; and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Kelley’s recordings feature him in repertoire spanning ten centuries, including three Deutsche Harmonia Mundi CDs, a Teldec release of Stravinsky’s Renard with Hugh Wolff and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Kurt Weill’s Das Kleine Mahagonny with Kent Nagano from Erato.
David Kravitz (The United Nations) Baritone David Kravitz makes his Dallas Opera debut with this production. His 2013-2014 season brings engagements as Paolo Orsini in Rienzi for the debut performance of Boston’s Odyssey Opera; Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Emmanuel Music; and performances with Boston Lyric Opera as both the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte and Marullo in Rigoletto. Concert performances this season include Mohammed Fairouz’s Symphony No. 3 (Poems and Prayers) with the UCLA Philharmonic, and A Sea Symphony, with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra. His 2012-2013 season began with a return to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol under Charles Dutoit, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project for Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage, and to Boston Baroque for performances of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona. Other engagements included debuts with Chautauqua Opera, Washington National Opera and with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Carnegie Hall for Handel’s Radamisto with the English Concert under Harry Bicket; Boston Lyric Opera for the American premiere of MacMillan’s Clemency; and Emmanuel Music for the Boston and Tanglewood premieres of Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. Mr. Kravitz appears as a featured soloist on several commercial recordings that were recently released, including Mohammed Fairouz’s For Victims (Naxos) and Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket (Albany Records.)
Tom McNichols (The Administration) Bass Tom McNichols’ has been heard on five continents in live performance, recorded radio broadcasts, and made studio recordings in works ranging from the narration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the Boston Pops to world premieres of new operatic work. Following the premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers at Opera Monte Carlo in 2010 he was engaged by Opera Orchestra of New York for Massenet’s La Navarraise at Carnegie Hall. The 2011 season began with a revival of Death and the Powers with The American Repertoire Theater in Boston and with Chicago Opera Theater. In 2012 he sang Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Grand Rapids and with Trenton’s Boheme Opera. He began the following season singing the role of God in the world premiere of Matthew Harris’ sThe Mark of Cain with Chelsea Opera, followed by his Opera Omaha and Opera Carolina debuts again as Sarastro. He also made his Lincoln Center debut in I Lombardi with Eve Queler’s Opera Orchestra of New York. Later this year he will be seen in a movie, The Bohemians, a modern adaptation of La bohème set in present day Brooklyn, in which he plays the role of Colline.
Tod Machover (Composer/Creative Director) Tod Machover has been called “America’s Most Wired Composer” by the Los Angeles Times and is celebrated for creating music that breaks traditional artistic and cultural boundaries. He is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music & Media and Director of the Opera of the Future Group at the MIT Media Lab, and is also Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He studied with Elliott Carter at The Juilliard School, and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM Institute in Paris. Machover’s music has been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s most important performers and ensembles, and has received numerous international prizes and awards, including the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French Culture Ministry and the 2013 Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center. Machover is also acclaimed for inventing new technologies for music, such as his Hyperinstruments that augment musical expression for everyone from virtuosi like Yo-Yo Ma and Prince to players of Guitar Hero, which grew out of his Lab. Machover is particularly noted for his radically inventive operas, which include “VALIS” (1987), based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, the audience-interactive “Brain Opera” (1996/7), and “Skellig” (2008), based on the best-seller by David Almond. Since launching Death and the Powers (finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music) in the fall of 2010, Machover has premiered Spheres and Splinters for hypercello, Chomsky Suite for the Kronos Quartet with linguist/activist Noam Chomsky, and “collaborative symphonies” in Toronto and Edinburgh, with the latest – Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea – premiering at the Perth (Australia) Festival in March 2014.
Robert Pinsky (Librettist) Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. During his tenure, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project (favoritepoem.org), in which thousands of Americans shared their favorite poems. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books. His newest is an anthology for poets called Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters. Other recent works are his Selected Poems and PoemJazz, a CD with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood. His landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry. His volume of poetry The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received the Lenore Marshall Award. This spring, the Shakespeare Theatre Company performed Pinsky’s newly commissioned adaptation and translation of Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein. Pinsky teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He is the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, and the Theodore M. Roethke Memorial Poetry Award. He is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on The Simpsons and The Colbert Report.
Nicole Paiement (Conductor) Nicole Paiement, who made her Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse in 2012, is the Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle (OP), a professional company in San Francisco, dedicated to contemporary opera. With the company, Paiement has conducted many new productions including the World premiere of the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the West Coast premiere of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Berg’s Wozzeck, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar and the commission of Dante De Silva’s opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness – presented as a graphic opera. Upcoming projects include the American premiere of Adam Gorb’s opera Anya 17, Francis Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias and Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel. Paiement is an active guest conductor, specializing in contemporary music. She has premiered and commissioned numerous works from composers around the world and recorded extensively. Paiement is the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project – a new music series sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. With this music series, she has commissioned, premiered and recorded works from many living American composers. Paiement is also the Director of Ensembles at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she conducts the orchestra and opera productions.
Diane Paulus (Original Stage Director) Diane Paulus was the recipient of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (Pippin) and was twice nominated for the same honor (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Hair). She is the Artistic Director at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) where her recent work includes The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, adapted by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, Prometheus Bound, a new musical inspired by Aeschylus’s ancient Greek tragedy, Death and The Powers by Tod Machover, in collaboration with MIT Media Lab; The Donkey Show a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which ran for six years Off-Broadway and toured internationally; Best of Both Worlds and Johnny Baseball. Her other recent theater credits include The Public Theater’s Tony-Award winning revival of Hair on Broadway and London’s West End. Other recent work includes Kiss Me, Kate (Glimmerglass Opera) and Lost Highway (ENO co-production with the Young Vic.) As an opera director, her credits include The Magic Flute (Canadian Opera Company), Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium in New York; Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, The Turn Of The Screw, Così fan tutte, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo at the Chicago Opera Theater. Diane is a Professor of the Practice of Theater in Harvard University’s English Department and was recently named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Boston by Boston Magazine and is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Boston Conservatory.
Andrew Eggert (Stage Director) Andrew Eggert makes his Dallas Opera debut with this production. Recent productions include directing La descente d’Orphee aux enfers and serving as the associate director on La hija de Rappaccini for the Gotham Chamber Opera, the US premiere of Clemency by James MacMillan for Boston Lyric Opera and Bluebeard’s Castle for Opera Omaha. At Chicago Opera Theater he has directed Mosè in Egitto and La Tragédie de Carmen, as well as serving 8 seasons there as an assistant director. He is a regular collaborator of Diane Paulus having served as Associate Director on the world première of Death and the Powers at the Opéra de Monte Carlo, as well as US performances at the American Repertory Theatre and Chicago Opera Theater; Gotham Chamber Opera’s production of Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium; Die Zauberflöte at Canadian Opera Company and Macbeth at Boston Lyric Opera. He has been a regular guest director at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Princeton University, and the Yale Baroque Opera Project, and has worked with the young artist programs of Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Wolftrap Opera. He is the director of the opera program at Chicago’s Roosevelt University.
Alex McDowell (Production Design) Alex McDowell is one of the most innovative and influential designers working in narrative media, with the impact of his ideas extending far beyond his background in cinema. McDowell advocates an immersive design process that acknowledges the key world-building role of design in storytelling. McDowell trained as a painter in London in the ’70s, and then opened a graphic design firm where he built his reputation designing album covers for seminal groups in the London punk scene. He moved into production design for music videos and commercials, settled in Los Angeles in the mid-’80s, and moved into film in 1990. Since then he has designed for directors as diverse as Steven Spielberg, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and David Fincher. With many awards for his film design work, McDowell was named Royal Designer for Industry by the UK’s most prestigious design society, the Royal Society of Arts, in 2006. He currently serves as adjunct professor at the Interactive Media Department/School of Cinematic Arts, USC, and is Visiting Artist at MIT Media Lab, where he has been working for several years with Tod Machover’s Opera of the Future Lab.
Karole Armitage (Choreography) Karole Armitage, director of the New York-based Armitage Gone! Dance Company, was rigorously trained in classical ballet. As a professional dancer she performed in Balanchine’s Grand Théâtre de Genève Company and in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She directed the Ballet of Florence Italy (1995–98) and the Biennale of Contemporary Dance in Venice (2004), served as resident choreographer for the Ballet de Lorraine in France (1999–2004), and created works for many companies including the Bolshoi Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Paris Opéra Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, and Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. She has also directed several operas, including Orfeo ed Euridice at Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy and Bartok’s Bluebeards Castle at Het National Theater in Amsterdam, Ms. Armitage choreographed Janá?ek’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011) and the Stravinsky celebration A Dancer’s Dream for the New York Philharmonic (2013). On Broadway she has choreographed Passing Strange and Hair, the latter earning her a Tony nomination, as well as videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson, and several films for Merchant Ivory productions. Ms. Armitage choreographed the Cirque du Soleil production Amaluna (2012). Ms. Armitage is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was awarded the Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s most prestigious honor.
David C. Woolard (Costume Design) Broadway credits include A Time to Kill, First Date, Lysistrata Jones, West Side Story, Jane Fonda’s clothing for 33 Variations, Dividing the Estate, The Farnsworth Invention, Old Acquaintances, Ring of Fire, All Shook Up, 700 Sundays, The Smell of the Kill, The Rocky Horror Show (2001 Tony Award Nomination), Voices in the Dark, The Who’s Tommy (1993 Tony and Olivier Award nominations), Bells are Ringing, Marlene, Wait Until Dark, Horton Foote’s The Young Man from Atlanta, Damn Yankees and A Few Good Men. Other credits include costumes for The Italian Girl in Algeria for the Dallas Opera, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Encores), The Old Friends and Orphans Home Cycle (Signature Theatre) with the latter winning a Drama Desk and Hewes Award, Toxic Avenger (off-Broadway and Alley Theatre), The Donkey Show (A.R.T.), Midsummer Night’s Dream (La Jolla Playhouse) and Oscar (Santa Fe Opera). Mr. Woolard is currently designing Bronx Bombers for Broadway.
Donald Holder (Lighting Design) Tony Award winning Lighting designer Donald Holder made his Dallas Opera debut lighting the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick in 2010. Other opera productions include Two Boys (the world premiere at English National Opera and the American premiere earlier this season at the Metropolitan Opera, The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera, Grendel for Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival, Dark Sisters (Philadelphia Opera Company), Salome (Kirov Opera), Carmen (Houston Grand Opera) and Faust at Germany’s (Baden-Baden Festival). On Broadway, Mr. Holder has been the lighting designer for Big Fish, The Bridges of Madison County, Bullets Over Broadway, South Pacific (2008 Tony Award), The Lion King (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards, Paris Moliere Award), Golden Boy, Ragtime, Movin’ Out, Les Liasons Dangereuses, Gem of the Ocean, A Streetcar Named Desire, Juan Darien (all Tony nominated), Spiderman – Turn Off the Dark, Annie, Promises, Promises, Come Fly Away, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Boy From Oz and many others. For television he was the lighting designer for the NBC series Smash for two seasons. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
Chris Full (Sound Design) Sound designer Chris Full began his career at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Wales in 1984 and enjoyed several seasons before moving to London where he has worked on West End musicals such as City of Angels, Five Guys Named Moe, Les Misérables, The Rink, Follies, Cats , Chess and several seasons with Kenneth Brannah’s Renaissance Theatre Company, as well as on productions of Les Misérables in Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, France and Germany, Candide in Copenhagen and West End productions of Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You, Return to the Forbidden Planet, She Loves Me, Fame, Fosse, Voyeurz and worldwide productions such as Cats, Copacabana, Song and Dance, Evita, Grease, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Oliver!, Fosse, Soul Train, Ragtime, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Into the Woods and most recently Shrek and Rock of Ages. He was nominated for awards for his work on Ragtime and Guys and Dolls. His live broadcast credits include Live from the London Palladium, the BAFTA awards, and The Marriage of Figaro for BBC Four which won an award for best sound. Recently he has been pioneering the emerging field of immersive audio and multimedia integration on projects like the opera Death and the Power and Ladies and Gentlemen with the film director Jonathan Glazer and J Spaceman, while bringing his experience to Walking with Dinosaurs (European and Asian Arena Tour) and How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular (US Arena Tour.)
David Zimmerman (Wig and Make-up Supervisor) David Zimmerman has worked with Dallas and other opera companies around the world. These include The Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Paris National Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. Mr. Zimmerman’s career extends to Broadway, as well, where he has worked on shows including Wicked, Rocky Horror, Show Boat, South Pacific and Evita. Personal clients include Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Patricia Racette, Martha Stewart, Olympia Dukakis and Ricky Martin. Mr. Zimmerman has also done the makeup for DIFFA Fashion Runway, Dallas Fashion and Art Charity, and the Yelp.com fashion event. Print credits include two features in Opera News plus features in both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. TV and film credits include Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” and a feature film starring Anna Paquin.
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The February 16th performance will be simulcast to nine venues across the globe! For more information about the simulcast venues, click here.
In Dallas, the simulcast is taking place at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This venue is sold out. For details, visit the Perot Museum website here.
Tod Machover discusses Death and the Powers.