Opera in the fifth dimension
August 21, 2009 1:10 PM   Subscribe

In Hypermusic Prologue, physicist Lisa Randall re-imagines her extradimensional theories of the universe as opera, with a score by Hèctor Parra. Some more about this on YouTube (the last three are in french, but you can hear some of the music): Episode 1 (Randall speaks), Episode 2 (scenery), Episode 3 (the music), and Episode 4 (more scenery).
posted by twoleftfeet (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I read that as "reimagines her extradimensional theories of the universe as opera", meaning that the theories were extradimensional and they were about the universe being a giant opera.

It made for a strange bit of mental imaging, and suddenly I was convinced that I was living in Einstein On The Beach while everyone around me was doing Die Valkyrie. And life made sense. Just for a little while.
posted by hippybear at 1:24 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, beat me to it. I was thinking about putting this up, but then I realized it was probably going to hit a little too close to home.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:34 PM on August 21, 2009


You can also hear some of the music if you just click on the slideshow in the Seed Magazine link.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:39 PM on August 21, 2009


Thanks. I didn't notice the slideshow link in that image.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2009


Nice. It's always annoyed me just a bit when a choreographer announces, "this next dance is about string theory." A little credibility is welcome.

Someone (Rudolf Arnheim?) said that incorporating science into art always has something of the quality of cutting out a piece of a map and gluing it to the canvas.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:55 PM on August 21, 2009


It's always annoyed me just a bit when a choreographer announces, "this next dance is about string theory."

Seldom have I read a sentence that more clearly illustrates that the writer and I live in two completely different worlds.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:42 PM on August 21, 2009


...re-imagines her extradimensional theories...
posted by neuron at 2:53 PM on August 21, 2009


Seldom have I read a sentence that more clearly illustrates that the writer and I live in two completely different worlds.

Let me explain this by telling of the time I had dinner sitting next to an astrophysicist who had won a prestigious award, the Einstein Award or some such, when a post doc at Princeton. He was currently a professor at Stanford.

I asked him what he thought of string theory, and he said, "I have no opinion, because I would have to devote 7 years of full time study of the underlying math before I could even offer an opinion. I haven't found the time for that." So, yes, that conversation has informed my expectations regarding choreographic dissertations regarding string theory.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:57 PM on August 21, 2009


Ah, StickyCarpet, you seem to be under the impression that most string theorists could tell you what they think of string theory.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:05 PM on August 21, 2009


Again and further, in my defense, It's Raining Florence Henderson, I have myself co-directed an experimental dance theater company, so I've seen how the sausages are made.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:12 PM on August 21, 2009


I have myself co-directed an experimental dance theater company, so I've seen how the sausages are made.

Goodness! What were you directing? The all-male version of Swan Lake?
posted by hippybear at 3:27 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, but you have nothing to defend here, StickyCarpet. My comment was in no way meant as a dig. It simply struck me how out of touch I have fallen with the world of dance since... my career with the Russian Ballet was cut short by a KGB Officer's bullet in the mid '70s while fleeing our chaperone after a performance in New York.*

*entirely fictional account of author's shameful neglect of culture since moving away from home, where his mother had, until that point, made heroic attempts to raise him with a little class, to give her her due, however futile*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2009


Oh, sorry IRFH, I took your comment as a dig at jaded cynicism.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:36 PM on August 21, 2009


I took your comment as a dig at jaded cynicism

Nope. Not at all. There was a time, however long ago, when I might have actually been able to claim that I had heard choreographers announce something (all jokes aside, I was introduced to a few as a child). But not in a long time, and never to the extent where annoying patterns would have emerged, and certainly not about anything so esoteric as string theory. So your comment, while I understood your point completely, still read as so entirely alien to my current life, that it gave me a weird little jolt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:49 PM on August 21, 2009


Back on subject, my point is that if you do attend a dance theater performance that is about Shifting Tectonic Plates, it's quite likely that the choreography itself preceded the selection of the nominal topic. Seems less likely that it happened that way in this show, so, good.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:35 PM on August 21, 2009


I seem to remember that the choreography in the San Francisco staging of Doctor Atomic was meant to evoke subatomic particles gyrating through existence, but that made sense. Is there some kind of underground science movement I'm not aware creeping through the dance world?
posted by Diagonalize at 4:59 PM on August 21, 2009


"aware of"...I really should use the preview button more.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:02 PM on August 21, 2009


Ah, StickyCarpet, you seem to be under the impression that most string theorists could tell you what they think of string theory.

Come on now, I think we *could* tell you. We just might choose not too. (Actually, I'm more or less totally happy to talk about it. It's just not something everyone cares to hear about). The bigger issue is that string theory is not one coherent thing. I can't tell you what I think about the single theory that is string theory, because there is no such beast.


And, ah, yes, you know of Dance Your PhD? I suppose that's more a dance movement taking academia by storm, not the other way around, but, still. Sometimes I think I might have to ice skate mine (can't dance).

Oh, and, it'd be really interesting to hear from someone who actually knows something about opera, which I am clueless on-- is this opera actually good, taken as opera?
posted by nat at 11:24 PM on August 21, 2009


I can tell you that opera doesn't have that much to do with dance.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:11 AM on August 22, 2009


I generally enjoy opera, although I don't understand it well, which is basically my relationship with physics too. Although I didn't really enjoy the clips I heard all that much, particularly when they started to do all kinds of fancy electronic effects toward the end. A big part of the enjoyment of opera for me is hearing the kind of nuanced power and majesty you can coax out of the human voice, and you seriously lose that when crazy microphone shenanigans are introduced. It just felt...gimmicky, like they were trying too hard to push the "Look, everyone! SCIENCE!" angle.

Modern opera is a tricky, tricky beast, sort of like theoretical physi--whoa, maybe that's totally what they were going for! Modern science and opera locked together in a constant struggle of experimental flux, where they're both just trying to...yeah, right, no.

I actually get more out of this when I start analyzing it from a gender studies viewpoint, deconstructing the role of women in science kind of thing. Of course, when I start doing that, Lisa Randall starts to emerge as the nurturing All-Mother figure to the struggling sexist bastions of male-dominated science, and it all starts to become rather silly.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2009


« Older John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star...  |  While there are many ways to s... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments