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Machines do so many dirty jobs that human beings don't want to even think about, much less carry out themselves. Machines are still used for the executions of prisoners, and the ongoing moral dilemma of relying on inconsistent technology to take care of a judicial problem was anticipated 100 hundred years ago by Franz Kafka in his short story “In the Penal Colony.” Long Beach Opera revives composer Philip Glass and librettist Rudolph Wurlitzer's darkly lulling and contemplative 2000 operatic adaptation, in which a visitor (tenor Doug Jones) to an island prison encounters an officer (Zeffin Quinn Hollis) who is so enamored by a machine used for executions that he overlooks his own humanity.

CSULB Studio Theater, 1250 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; Thu., April 25, 7:30 p.m.; through Sun., May 5, 2:30 p.m.; $49-$150. (562) 985-5526, longbeachopera.org.