First Digital Opera Premieres at BarbicanDate: 21 April 1998
On Tuesday 19 May, the Barbican Centre will present the British premiere release of Monsters of Grace, featuring scenes from a new digitial opera in three dimensions by US composer Philip Glass and director/designer Robert Wilson. The production launches BITE:98, the Barbican's first international theatre season which will run for 22 weeks.
Utilising advanced digital technology developed by Silicon Graphics, Monsters of Grace melds high art and high technology. It unfolds in three-dimensional computer generated images projected onto a large screen in 70mm stereoscopic film format. The film is directed by Diana Walczak and Jeff Kleiser who have pioneered the creation of Synthespians, or computer-generated characters. Audience members will view this ‘beta version of Monsters of Grace through special polarised lenses.
A full-length score is performed live by Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble with vocal soloists. The work is scored for live amplified voices, woodwinds, keyboards, Macintosh computers, MIDI interface and custom-designed Persian and other Middle Eastern string and percussion instruments. The libretto is based on the 13th century poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, a poet and mystic believed to be the original whirling dervish.
Jedediah Wheeler, the show's producer, comments: “I consider Monsters of Grace to be 21st century theatre. Up until this point, theatre has basically been stuck in the 19th century with a few bells and whistles. Monsters of Grace will appeal to a new generation of theatre audiences who may not be familiar with the work of Glass or Wilson but who will be excited by the digital experience.