May 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 2023 at 8:30 PM
HERE Performing Arts Center, Mainstage Theater
(145 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013)
Music by Eric Moe
Libretto by Rob Handel
Introducing THE ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE by Eric Moe and Rob Handel, a lighthearted science-fiction opera about robot-loving artists and art-loving robots; about obsession and distraction, fame and obscurity, human and machine, change and end, the last days of humankind.
Omar Najmi, Spearmint Lodge
Emily Solo, Najeen Teflo
Daniel Klein, Ted / Dewey
Brittany Fowler, Amalia Habitué / Shirl
Dara Malina, Stage Director
Alex Wen, Music Director
Victoria Benson, Co-Production Manager
Jillian Flexner, Co-Production Manager
Zane Alcorn, Stage Manager
Candace Chien, Pianist
Karen Boyer, Costume Designer
You-Shin Chen, Scenic Design
Jon DeGaetano, Video Design
Dan Delaney, Technical Director
Joy Havens, Choreographer
Jillian Flexner, Sound Designer
Daisy Long, Lighting Designer
Henry Newman, Props Designer
Jiaying Zhang, Additional Sculpture Designer
Artwork of the Future begins with a TEDtalk (the first operatic portrayal of a TEDtalk, perhaps). The charismatic speaker preaches a romantic dedication to work, citing the examples of immortal artists like Bach and Van Gogh, whose efforts have remained part of the human experience long after their deaths.
The speaker doesn’t know it, but he has changed the life of the TEDtalk sound technician, Spearmint Lodge, art-school grad and wholly unrecognized maker of “spectator-triggered musical robot installations.” Spearmint wanders the city, turning these ideas over in his mind. As dawn approaches, he stumbles into an all-night coffeehouse and meets singer/songwriter/barista Najeen Teflo. She contracts his new religion like a virus, and they return to his squalid apartment to begin a life of total dedication to their art in spite of the apathy shown it by the rest of the world.
As time passes, however, their conviction begins to wane. They become haunted by a desire to know for certain that their work will finally be recognized three hundred years in the future. As fate would have it, Najeen has met a physicist, Amalia Habitué, working at the margins of science, whose lab has cracked the secret of time travel.
Spearmint and Najeen arrive in the future at the Guggenheim Museum, which proves to be, in fact, full of their work, honoring them as prophetic artists. There are, however, no people in the future. A robot docent explains that all the humans died out, barely noticing, while noodling with their phones, that this was happening.
Returning to the present, the lovers find themselves fiercely divided about what to do. She wants to abandon their dreams of immortality and devote their energies to saving humankind. He doesn’t see a problem with a future populated by robots, so long as the art survives. Will Spearmint and Najeen be torn apart? And can this species be saved?