R.U.R. A Torrent of Light

A sci-fi opera set in the near future – a new production by Tapestry Opera and OCAD University’s Social Body Lab. Composed by Nicole Lizée | Libretto by Nicolas Billon | Directed by Michael Hidetoshi Mori

For the world premiere of R.U.R A Torrent of Light, we collaborated with Tapestry Opera to create a series of wearable devices that were embedded into the costumes of performers and worn by musicians. The opera was created for the 100th anniversary of the original play Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Capek. The goal of these devices was to provide new forms of visual and audio information within the narrative of the opera. Two main types of devices were created: Primus, an LED badge and collar, and Radius, a set of wearable speakers. Each of thedevices utilized a networked microcontroller that received either color data or sound cues throughout the performance. The animated lighting sequences were created as video animations that were sampled within Isadora and sent to the wearables as OSC messages. Each device used a unique IP address which allowed different animations to be streamed to multiple characters simultaneously. The Radius devices had a series of sound files stored locally on an SD card that were triggered using OSC messages. In both cases, the custom firmware written for the devices allowed the sound, light, and projection designers to use their standard software interfaces to control this new type of output. The enclosures for each of the devices were created as custom 3d prints using a combination of FDM and resin printing using a Form3.

About the Opera

The fictional tech company R.U.R., founded by couple Helena and Dom, dominates the A.I. software market and powers the now-ubiquitous androids that serve their human owners. 

As Dom becomes more focused on growing R.U.R’s profits, Helena’s creative research leads to an unexpected technological breakthrough that pits the couples’ visions squarely against each other. They’ve reached a turning point for humanity, but is humanity ready? 

Inspired by Karel Čapek’s 1920’s science-fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots (which introduced the word “robot” to the English language), composer Nicole Lizée’s and writer Nicolas Billon’s R.U.R. A Torrent of Light grapples with one of our generation’s most fascinating questions. 

This stunning new opera combines dance, beautiful multimedia design, a chamber orchestra including 100 instruments creating a unique electronica-classical sound, and wearable technology created with Social Body Lab, to create an immersive and unforgettable science-fiction experience.