The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), MIT Music and Theater Arts, and Guerilla Opera will present the world premiere of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage a comedic new opera that features Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, the true-life unsung inventors of the first computer, using their brilliant new invention to “fight crime” in alternative universes. The world premiere chamber opera features music composed by the dynamic Elena Ruehr, libretto by the Pulitzer-prize winning Royce Vavrek, is adapted from the New York Times best-selling graphic novel by Sydney Padua, and is the Guerilla Opera debut of stage director Giselle Ty.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage plays for four performances from Friday and Saturday, February 3 and February 4, 2022 at 7:30PM to Saturday and Sunday, February 4 and February 5, 2022 at 3:00PM in the MIT Theater Arts Building W97 Black Box Theater, Cambridge, MA. The opera is approximately 70 minutes in duration and sung in English. Tickets are $0-$55 and are on sale now at arts.mit.edu/lovelace-and-babbage.
Ruehr’s composition includes sounds from a real Difference Engine, which she recorded in Seattle. From the machine’s clicks, clacks, and thunks Ruehr created a digital percussion section, which she programmed onto an electronic marimba-a synthesizer played with mallets by percussionist Mike Williams-to incorporate the actual sounds as part of the opera.
“So much contemporary opera, and in fact much contemporary art, has such dark themes. Indeed, we live in dark times. But I do think it’s important to step back and remind ourselves of how wonderful we are.” – Elena Ruehr
Ada Lovelace was a mathematician, gambler, and proto-programmer, whose writings contained the first ever appearance of general computing theory. Charles Babbage was the eccentric inventor of the “Difference Engine”, an enormous clockwork calculating machine that would have been the first computer, if he had ever finished it.
Ada Lovelace was the first great genius to develop a programming language, and who is still not generally known. By bringing this historical figure to light, this opera demonstrates that there is a history of great scientists that are women.
“Operas on mathematical subjects remain sadly rare, despite the close affinity of music and mathematics; comic operas about computing even rarer despite the fact that computers are extremely funny. MIT is the perfect partner for this production and I hope newbies to both computing and opera enjoy the show.” – Sydney Padua
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage features Aliana de la Guardia as Ada Lovelace, Aaron Engebreth as Charles Babbage, with Omar Najimi as Lord Byron, Erin Matthews as the Queen of England, Rane Moore (clarinet), Lilit Hartunian (violin), Stephen Marotto (cello), Mike Williams (percussion), Rebecca Shannon Butler (Costume Designer), Keithlyn B Parkman (Lighting and Scenic Designer), and Nuozhou Wang (Video Projections Designer).
The world premiere opera is set to travel as a concert performance to the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Hancock, MI in June 2023, and the full theatrical production to Michigan Technological University in October 2023.
The world premiere of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is supported by a grant from the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), which connects the worlds of art, science, and technology by collaborating with departments, labs, and centers across the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
ACCESSIBILITY & OTHER EVENTS
In addition to the scheduled performance on Saturday, February 4, 2022, CAST and Guerilla Opera welcome members of the blind and visually impaired community to experience a tactile tour of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage production at 2:00pm directly preceding the 3:00pm matinee performance. We also welcome all audiences to stay for a post-show discussion directly after that same performance.
About Guerilla Opera
Guerilla Opera is a BIPOC and feminist organization, Boston’s only experimental chamber opera ensemble, and one of only a few in the world who exclusively presents new works. One of Boston’s most exciting companies creating brave new works and founded in 2007, the ensemble has accumulated a repertoire of over 40 new works by the most exciting composers of our generation. In daring performances, they have garnered a national reputation for innovative contemporary opera, with The Boston Globe raving that “radical exploration remains the cornerstone of everything it does.”
This artist-led ensemble wields a mission to present new experimental works of opera theater, which are custom-tailored to their ensemble of artists. With the goal to confront, examine, and question stereotypical traditions of the art form of opera they champion cutting-edge music, immerse audiences in profound experiences, and are a model for creative authenticity and inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) in order to inspire and influence emerging generations of artists. Their vision is to generate a unique body of work that ferociously confronts the status quo, examines stories through culturally focused and contemporary lenses, and to bring new music to new audiences. (guerillaopera.org)
About MIT’s Center for Art, Science & Technology
A major cross-school initiative, the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) creates new opportunities for art, science and technology to thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge, and discovery. MIT CAST’s multidisciplinary platform presents performing and visual arts programs, supports research projects for artists working with science and engineering labs, and sponsors symposia, classes, workshops, design studios, lectures, and publications. The visiting artists program is a cornerstone of CAST’s activities, which encourages cross-fertilization among disciplines and intensive interaction with MIT’s faculty, students, and researchers. (arts.mit.edu/cast)
About MIT Music and Theater Arts
MIT Music and Theater Arts invites students to explore these disciplines as artistic practices and as cultural, intellectual and personal avenues of inquiry and discovery. Students may pursue concentrations, minors or majors in either Music or Theater, as well as joint majors with Engineering or Science. Classes are tailored to the prior experiences of students who take them, from introductory classes assuming no previous background to advanced seminars, private lessons and performance opportunities for musicians ready to work at near professional levels. The program integrates and deepens connections between music and technology, science, society and other humanities disciplines, creating an experience that is intensely rich and uniquely MIT. Music and Theater Arts serves nearly half the undergraduate population at MIT with some 2000 students enrolled each semester. (mta.mit.edu/music/about)