Astonished and Terrified: Opera and the transformation of the world by technology

Complete Programme Announced

The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre, University of Sussex, presents

“Astonished and Terrified”: opera and the transformation of the world by technology – a two day programme of discussion, performance-in-progress, exhibition, demonstrations of new principles, and song, reflecting on uses of digital media in relation to opera,marking the end of Tim Hopkins’ ARHC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts with CROMT.

To Register please click

For Full Programme in detail click

2pm Friday June 22nd to 5pm Saturday June 23rd  The Creativity Zone, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH

(“Astonished and somewhat terrified” – Sir Arthur Sullivan’s recorded response to a demonstration of the new Edison phonograph in 1888).

Digital technology is now widely incorporated into the creative practice of many artists working in contemporary performance.

In the case of opera this has multiple manifestations and implications:

  • changes in modes of presentation within the traditional technological environment of the stage, such as unprecedented amounts of moving image and discreet / overt sound design
  • changes in who makes the work and how, where the processes of assembly have moved away from the artefact of the commissioned composers’ score / libretto, towards mobilisation by other elements traditionally at work in opera’s 400 year history (such as concept,dramaturgy, scenography)
  •  uses of digital media to export opera’s constituents beyond collective experiences in theatres, such as uses of pervasive, locative media and live streaming to relocate / reconfigure relationships between music, narrative, audience, etc
  • new understandings of concepts such as “live” and “mediated”, etc
  • works that may use no contemporary technology devices, but thematise their presence


Confirmed Artists and Thinkers include:

Andreas Breitscheid – (composer,  Germany, former Artistic Director of  Forum Neues Musiktheater, Stuttgart Staatsoper.) – on specifying Opera in the face of altered technological conditions

Tansy Davies – (composer , UK) – reflecting on reflection on her artistic practice

Tim Hopkins – (artist, UK) – exhibiting material on recent research projects – The Lost Chord, TV Opera, Give Me Your Blessing For I Go To A Foreign Land, Music Walk or Hunting for Mushrooms

Craig Vear – (composer, UK) – presenting a web-streamed demonstration across campus of material from his work ‘A Sentimental Journey’

Claudia Molitor – (composer, UK) introducing her new desktop opera-in-progress ‘Remember Me…’

Rolf Wallin – (composer, UK/Norway) – on his current opera commission, a science fictional imagining of the future

Nicholas Till  – (artist, UK) on the phenomenology of new media

Christopher Morris – (University College Cork, Ireland) on spectating new operatic media and how talk about this

Simon Katan – composer, UK – a live experiment with digital co-dependent score and sung performance

Jorge Balça – performer, director – University of Portsmouth, UK –  audio recording technology – opera’s music-centrism in the 20th Century; video technology – performance re-embodied in the 21st?

Caroline Wilkins –  composer, performer, UK, Australia – Beyond Mind, a collaboration with Oded Ben-Tal – a theatrical use of the digital voice and hyper-instruments.


Jelena Novak, theorist and dramaturge – ASCA, University of Amsterdam; CESEM, Universidade Nova de Lisboa; Serbia –  Body and Voice, Divided: Singing Corporeality in the Age of Media


Alexis Kirke – composer, creative technologist, ICCMR, Plymouth, UK – Open Outcry – systems on the edge of control – singers in a real-time money market drive electronic trading with the voice


Daniel Somerville – dance artist, UK –  technology as essentially ‘operatic’


In the event you experience difficulties accessing conference information via these links, please do contact Tim (

To Register please click

The Creativity Zone is situated in Pevensey III, Room C7. Find it on the Campus Map [PDF 729.28KB]

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