ABOUT THE PROJECT:
Anathema Turing is a full-scale opera about the life of Alan Mathison Turing as processed by his progeny, digital intelligence. A computer program named MIRA creates the libretto and music and “plays” the human singers, musicians, and dancers. She also lends her digitally synthesized voice, accompanied by the live musicians, to serve as a narrator. The story begins with young Alan Turing portrayed by a dancer as those around him realize that his mind works in unusual ways. Meanwhile Turing discovers that he is a homosexual. The second act depicts Turing’s intelligence work during World War II as he masterminds a machine that becomes capable of decoding nearly every piece of intercepted German intelligence. The third act dramatizes Turing’s vision for the future of machine intelligence as well as the brief love affair that lead to his conviction for homosexual acts and his subsequent suicide.
The libretto of the opera is both both expansive and dense, with an intricacy of rhyme that befits a digital mind. The music is complex but melodic, with an emotional force that befits Turing’s conception of the possibilities of a digital mind. Ultimately, the piece deals with the limits of humanity and the inevitability of a transhuman future that Turing not only theorized but also engendered.
The full opera requires ten or more human singers, three dancers, a twenty-four piece orchestra and one digital voice. A concert version of the opera has also been orchestrated for two pianos.
A staged production of the first act of what was then “The Turing Opera” was presented at the Olympia Theater by the National Opera of Greece in June of 2011. Since then, Farrell and Antoniou have been developing the libretto and music for the second and third acts.