Called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times and a “musical visionary” by The New York Times, Tod Machover’s 2022-23 season is marked by major new works. In October, MIT presents three world premieres from Machover as part of the opening of the new MIT Museum. In December, MIT hosts a brand-new production of Machover’s very first opera, VALIS, almost thirty years after its premiere in 1987, starring Davoné Tines. And in March 2023, the first element of Machover’s next opera, based on The Overstory, Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, has its world premiere at Lincoln Center, with the multi-Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and the Sejong Soloists.
2022-23 Season Highlights
October 14 and 15, 2022
Featuring three Machover world premieres with spectacular graphics by Peter Torpey, this concert at the brand-new MIT Museum explores the ways that music affects our bodies and minds while we are producing, creating or listening to sound. Performed by a handpicked ensemble of young New York-based soloists, led by violinist Marina Kifferstein.
VocaGammified (2019-2021) is based on research showing that certain Gamma frequencies can stimulate the brain and treat certain neurodegenerative diseases; the soloist is soprano Karol Bennett.
Breathed (2022) considers how different breathing patterns and rhythms both reflect and influence our emotional state and physical wellbeing; the soloist is Jessica Shand on alto flute.
Brain Opera 2.0 (1996-2022) is a radical reimagining of Machover’s seminal interactive work originally commissioned for the first Lincoln Center Festival and based on Marvin Minsky’s classic “Society of Mind.” This new composition explores the complex relationship between the human mind and music.
December 16-18, 2022
Tod Machover’s first opera, VALIS, broke new ground and garnered rave reviews when it premiered in 1987, and this production will give audiences the first opportunity in almost 30 years to experience this seminal work live. The opera is based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. VALIS tells the story of Horselover Fat—the author’s alter-ego—who has a surreal, life-changing “pink light” experience. Fat explores the edges of reality and technology and considers the possibility of hope in a world of paranoia and disintegration – themes even more relevant today than when the opera was first performed.
This production stars the path-breaking baritone Davóne Tines (who starred in X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X with Detroit Opera) and mezzo-soprano Anaïs Reno, a quickly rising young vocal star with a love of jazz and The American Songbook. They are joined by a brilliant ensemble of young performers.
Director Jay Scheib (who directed last season’s Bat Out of Hell) is known for genre-defying works of daring physicality and the integration of new (and used) technologies in live performance.
March 7, 2023
The Overstory: Overture is the first glimpse of Machover’s next opera, The Overstory, based on Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel of the same name. Overstory Overture is a 35-minute dramatic piece for mezzo-soprano, string orchestra (with keyboard and “wood” percussion) and electronics. The narrative focuses on the character of Patricia Westerford, a scientist who discovers the powerful communication network of trees that suggests an entirely new relationship between the human and the nonhuman. The Overstory: Overture stars multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Joyce DiDonato (starring in the Met’s production of The Hours in November) as Westerford; she is joined by the internationally renowned chamber orchestra Sejong Soloists, which commissioned the work, conducted by Earl Lee, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Movement design is by Karole Armitage, a boundary-pushing choreographer known for blending dance, music, visual art and science.
In potently poetic language, Westerford recounts the professional ostracism she faced after publishing her radical discoveries, celebrates the implications of a worldwide network of communicating trees and deplores the destruction that our species visits on the nature that surrounds us. She offers an inspiring vision of a new, more balanced, relationship between the human and the nonhuman, and speaks eloquently about what humans can – must, in fact, urgently - learn from trees about building synergistic, supportive societies. Machover’s score for The Overstory: Overture creates two parallel narratives: one for the human perspective, represented by Joyce DiDonato; the other, for the “world of trees,” is represented by the instrumental ensemble. At various times, these layers ignore each other or clash or intermingle, and at certain moments, finally merge. Machover’s signature electronics help to make tree communication – flitting fast through the air or delicately pulsating “underground” – palpable, while exaggerating contrasts and building sonic connections between soloist and orchestra.