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The People Out There

Hauke Berheide *1980

Opera in 5 acts
Libretto by Amy Stebbins
Commissioned by Oper Frankfurt, funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation
World Premiere

Performed in English with German surtitles

Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube shortly before opening night

»I feel you watch me through a hundred people’s eyes. The same me I see and choose to share. I feel the lens. I pose. Make another body. Transform into an image«. Mary, an influencer, and her unborn child have been selected by tech visionary Byron to lead humanity into digital immortality. Mary, even easier to manipulate because of her child's fatal illness and her promise to save his life, gets caught between fronts in a world of insiders, cut off from »the people out there« …

Working together for the third time, composer Hauke Berheide and librettist / director Amy Stebbins get to grips with the impact digitalisation has made on private and societal relationships. The opera traces the roots of this embryonic fifth industrial revolution, as masterminds like Ray Kurzweil describe it. A multi-layered mosaic of excerpts from texts and references emerges between interweaving literary motifs - Aeschylus, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, anonymous threatening letters from 19th century luddites, manifestos from Silicon Valley and analyses from Max Weber to Oliver Nachtwey.

The digital, floating abstractly, disembodied, is given concrete, physically produced sound. The music is always analogue, finding its expression through classical and recently invented instruments: playing on wine glasses, bent sheets of metal, a spiral cello. Everything outside this high tech world is dark »at rock bottom« – the people out there, while the already floating, privileged insiders are heard in »higher registers«. An unbearable tension you can hear is going to burst …

With generous support from the