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The robotic-opera. A seductive meeting between art and technology.

When singer Matilda Wahlund suddenly enters into the Golden Foyers of The Stockholm Royal Opera in pink rubber boots, it is a quite shocking operatic start for Carl Unander-Scharin’s ”Regnaria”. One of the pieces that makes up the performance ”Opera Mecatronica Live” by Åsa and Carl Unander-Scharin that last Saturday gathered hundreds of enthusiasts. The audience is offered more chances this week (7-9 May) before ”Opera Mecatronica Live” continues its tour to Rotterdam. Before the live performance, I strolled around among the two artist’s many projects since the 90’s, where classics have been processed with advanced technology forming wonderful and robust mechanics. Like the installation ”Petruchka’s cry” where the spectator himself with a crank makes Petruchka come to life while the beautiful ballerina-doll (with a CD as her tutu) spins around.

The main part of the show is nevertheless the live performance where the audience follows the five singers Kristin Gornstein, Henriikka Gröndahl, Signe Lind, Matilda Wahlund, Anna-Sara Åberg up and down the stairs.

 Arias by Purcell and Händel are transformed, changed and distorted by various forms of digital technology. Operatic classics are embedded in a fascinating futuristic soundscape. The whole is the result of the Extended Opera course at the Opera School in Stockholm, led by Carl Unander-Scharin in collaboration with Åsa Unander-Scharin.

The most innovative and exciting takes place when Åsa and Carl Unander-Scharin really goes for it and let ”high culture” – opera and ballet – meet or rather almost crash against high technology. My favourite is the crazy flapping and jerky dancing Robocygne (here on film only). And of course Ombra Mai Fu, the copper tree, that is controlled by motion sensors and that wakes to life singing Handel´s aria while its fans calm the audience as we approach.    A seductive rendezvous between art and technology that results in a cooling meditation over the existence in the shadow of the tree.

(Dagens Nyheter, Örjan Abrahamsson, Maj 2013)

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