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the Next Machine Age

Ready for the world’s first digital robotic opera? Well, it’s not ready for you yet — its tentative premiere is scheduled for late 2008 in Monte Carlo — but thanks to Cal State Long Beach’s University Art Museum, we’re being treated to a preview of a work that’s being described as “groundbreaking in musical language and materials, scenographic technique and performance technology.” A collaboration by composer/creative director Tod Machover of the MIT Media Lab and librettist Robert Pinsky, of U.S. Poet Laureate fame, Death and the Powers tells the story of multibillionaire inventor Simon Powers, whose human organism material experiments are culminating in an attempt to project himself into the future. Some of the bolder aspects of the work include the use of next-generation hyperinstruments; a Greek chorus of robots; and a robotic animatronic stage that comes alive as a main character. And the singers will control extensions and manipulations of their own voices. This weekend, Machover and Pinsky discuss the opera and baritone James Maddalena performs excerpts in a benefit for the UAM that includes dinner and a silent auction of “art and experiences” by Lita Albuquerque, Sandow Birk, Julius Shulman, Thomas Woodruff and more than 60 additional artists. V2O, 81 Aquarium Way, Long Beach; Sat., Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m.; $100-$500. (562) 985-4384 or www.csulb.edu/uam.

—Mary Beth Crain