R | The Opera

Today more than ever, the issues raised in Karel Capek’s 1920 play “RUR” are of crucial significance. Not only have people already been replaced by robots in many types of jobs, but scientists like Stephen Hawking have also repeatedly warned mankind of the threat posed by Artificial Intelligence. To mark its centenary in 2020, we – Italian composer Antonio Gervasoni and British librettist Richard John Lewis – felt ourselves compelled to create a work based on Capek’s visionary piece. The result is “R | The Opera”.

“R | The Opera” is a full-length work in four acts and requires the following ensemble to be staged: 12 musicians (Fl, Ob, Cl, Hr, Tpt, Perc, Keyb, string quartet and Db) and six singers (2 Sop, Mezzo, 2 Ten, Bar). In terms of scenery and wardrobe, there are no excessive demands – all the action takes place indoors, and the characters wear suits, overalls or white lab coats. Naturally, this is only a suggestion of the authors’, not a stipulation.

As well as being a work about the folly of ignoring the consequences of our own actions, “R | The Opera” also deals with such universal themes as love, compassion and empathy. Finally, it raises some fundamental questions which the human race will certainly be forced to face in the years and decades to come: can intelligent machines develop consciousness? And, if so, do they deserve to have rights?