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Schedule - Deutsche Oper Berlin

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New Scenes VII

A Chamber Opera Triptych by Zara Ali, Haukur þór Harðarson, Huihui Cheng

Information on the piece

Work 1
Chamber opera by Zara Ali
with a libretto by Hannah Dübgen

Work 2
Chamber opera by Haukur þór Harðarson
with a libretto by Sophie Fetokaki

Work 3
Chamber opera by Huihui Cheng
with a libretto by Giuliana Kiersz

World premiere: 27 April 2025 in the Tischlerei of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

approx. 2 hours 15 minutes / one interval

In German with German surtitles

recommended from 15 years
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Chamber opera 1
Chamber opera 2
Chamber opera 3
Our thanks to our partners

International Composition Competition of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in co-operation with the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin

Chamber opera 1
Chamber opera 2
Chamber opera 3
About the performance

What does a future look like in which researchers aren’t just creating with artificial intelligence, but have also learned to copy people at the computer? This scenario was put forth by economist Robin Hanson in his book The Age of Em – Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth. Composer Zara Ali from Memphis, Tennessee is currently working on bringing Hanson’s physical-digital hybrids to the stage in what she describes as a sort of “spherical installation” that will place the audience in the perceptual world of these “Ems”.

Together with author Hannah Dübgen, Ali is one of the three teams working on next-generation musical theatre for the seventh edition of the NEW SCENES. “We want to make something truly special, not the typical opera,” says the 28-year-old composer. Ali, who studied philosophy at Columbia University parallel to her musical education, frequently experiments with electronics, and works on interdisciplinary projects with string quartets and dancers – and now, for the first time, at an opera house.

Huihui Cheng, who attended a school for musically gifted children in Beijing at the age of 14, is particularly interested in the performative potential of compositions. She refers to her past works as “theatrically expanded pieces of music”, such as “Me Du Ça” – part of a series on Greek mythology. Cheng worked with a designer to change the Medusa singer’s hair from snakes into tubes that can be played like flutes. Like Ali, Cheng is interested in technological advancements and the possibilities these bring to the stage. She recalls recently seeing a drone at an Offenbach opera, emphasising that the goal of such methods should be “to convey the beauty of the music and the eternity of emotions”. An opera like the Deutsche Oper Berlin, she says, offers the ideal conditions for exploring innovative approaches.

Haukur Þór Harðarson, from Iceland and living in Berlin, co-founder of the composition collective Errata, thinks it’s exciting when New Theatre artists “challenge themselves with experimental methods”. For example, when they “subvert the idea of storytelling, or do away with a story altogether and focus on atmosphere or a state of being”. For NEW SCENES he will work with librettist Sophie Fetokaki, and is already compiling sound ideas. He hopes that the project will help him “meet potential future collaborators”.

What issues is the latest generation of artists focusing on? What are the burning questions that will be addressed on stage? What scenes, texts, sounds and images will these require? To answer these questions, the Tischlerei at the Deutsche Oper Berlin is being transformed into the future laboratory of NEW SCENES. As part of an international competition in summer 2023, three teams consisting of a composer and an author were selected to write a new piece of musical theatre to be debuted at the Tischlerei over a three-part evening. The three pieces will be performed, sung and produced by students at the School of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin. This marks the seventh time that the school has partnered with the Deutsche Oper Berlin on NEW SCENES.

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