"Is that the meaning of this 'Death' – data rearranged?" asks one robot in the opera's prologue.
"What is suffering? How can I perceive/ What I cannot feel?"
Asks another: "What can we learn? What can we gain,/ From inferior matter?"
The opera, more than a decade in the making, was composed by Tod Machover, who heads the Opera of the Future lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab in Cambridge. The libretto is written by Robert Pinsky, a former US poet laureate. Other key contributors include Diane Paulus, the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, and her husband, writer and producer Randy Weiner. Alex McDowell, the production designer, who establish the futuristic look of the production, has designed such films as "Minority Report," with its gadgetry, and the comic-book fantasy "Watchmen."
"I think what's exciting about this opera is the meditation on technology," says Ms. Paulus, who directs the production. "The subject matter itself is about how technology is part of our lives, and therefore there is actual technology in the show.... But it's actually a very poignant story about a family."