God from the Machine

God from the Machine
 

Opera origins

Ever since I studied composition as a teenager it has been my dream to leave something behind in the classical world. Modern opera is often a term applied to a-tonal music that’s difficult to count. I see modern opera now as a blend of technology, theater, and other entertainment genres such as video games or film. It is my goal to create a piece that is portable, able to be executed quickly, and has a wide appeal to a demographic that may normally lack interest in opera as an art form.

My roots have always been in rock music and something I learned from my experience in this genre is that an impactful performance can be created on portable stages. The theater world has been implementing the use of projected sets on scrims more and more and wireless microphones continue to be utilized to manage balance in outdoor settings. At the bottom of the page you can see some visual concepts I have for the execution of the piece and read more about my goals.

On this page I will be continually adding updates of music, costumes, sets, and the general process. Please check back often for the most current information.

The story

I wrote the libretto for “God from the Machine” with the intent of blending fairly futuristic concepts with traditional values. The piece has strong metaphors for religion, science, technology, immigration, and refugees. The opera is part two of a trilogy that takes place in the past, present, and future. The piece begins in a post-war dystopia, society is working on rebuilding and the world is relying on the church for direction. It’s a complicated time due to the rediscovering of old technologies that the church is having trouble explaining. Vidar, the leader of the church, is doing his best to calm a restless public with the help of his second in command, Tallis. Society is at unrest due to the recent discovery of bunkers full of cryogenically frozen people who will possibly need to reenter society. The unearthing and control of these bunkers is managed by an organization called Hestia, owned by a scientist named Lexina. As the story unravels we learn that there is more to these bunkers than first thought and that all three characters’ fates are intertwined as the true purpose and origins of the freezing process are revealed. Tallis is caught in the middle as the history of the frozen, and the true intentions of Hestia and the Church, come to light.

Sound

Since the goal of this piece is to be as portable as possible the accompaniment for the performers is a digital orchestra with pre-recorded choral and solo instrument sections. This allows for lighting and scene changes to be synced automatically to the music. The singing and performing is live. The inspiration for the overall sound comes from video game sound tracks such as Zelda or Final Fantasy and popular Television series on Netflix. Below you’ll find a few of the first musical sketches of the music from the opera. When writing for a digital orchestra mixing is as important as the composition itself. The reality is the final mix can’t be completed until the stage and speakers that it will be performed on exist. The process has also been slowed until I’m able to obtain some better equipment that is capable of the processing power involved with creating this music. For more information on how you can help support this project, please contact me directly.

Vidar’s Prayer (Musical sketch)

Below you’ll find a sample of the music that accompanies Vidar’s first aria. He has just finished giving a sermon that serves to calm an anxious public while simultaneously giving us insight into the overall plot. After the sermon he leads them in a prayer which they then answer in chorus. The music below is without voices but they’ll soon be added, so check back often for updates.

 
 
 

Prelude (musical sketch)

The opera begins without a curtain or an obvious start. A flashing of the lights or small musical cue will signal people to go to their seats. Before people are completely settled organ music begins which will hopefully give people the feeling that they’re sitting down for church. Onstage people will begin setting up for the sermon. The recording below is of that moment, ending with Vidar standing at the pulpit, ready to begin his sermon. There are digital voices in the music below, these will later be replaced with actual voices.

 
 

Execution and visual concept

Portability is the core of this piece and the best way to do this is with technology. As a rock musician I spent years performing on trucks that would magically become a stage that would host a fully lit rock concert with all the sound, smoke, and impact of a stadium. The use of CGI, scrims, and projections have been flourishing in the theater world lately and can often replace the need of transporting a full set in traveling shows. Act 1 of the show takes place mostly in a church with the latter half taking place on a balcony outside. This can all be done with a few props, a lot of organization, great content, and precise execution. Act 2 takes place in a bunker full of cryogenically frozen bodies. An easy scene change with a well planned animation. Singers will perform with wireless microphones and since the music will be quite a bit louder than a normal opera concert, there will be food and drinks available throughout the show. One of the most exciting things I am developing, however, is a lush back history of the characters that will extend from this website. One of the things that makes franchises like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings so popular, is the extra content. Fan fiction, back stories, and additional art are just a few of the things I want to bring to the opera world with QR-codes and extended web content.

Become personally involved

If you would like to help in making this project a reality, please contact me directly to find out how to make an immediate impact in bringing this piece to the stage. Opera is an art form that has survived so much, and it is by no means dead. It’s an art form that in it’s traditional form is incredible, and should always exist as so. The wonderful thing about opera is how flexible of art form it is, and always has been. Opera is so flexible in fact. that it can even be blended with the newest trends and technologies without losing it’s essence.