Shakespeare, CERN and Game of Thrones combine for new Contemporary Music Festival opera

Lampedusa visuals by Kaz Rahman

A new operatic prequel to The Tempest performed by the BBC Singers is to headline the Contemporary Music Festival 2019: Multiverse in Plymouth.

Professor Eduardo Miranda’s Lampedusa will premiere at the annual festival, which takes place at the University from 22–24 February.

Lampedusa will be performed at the festival Gala Concert on Saturday 23 February by the acclaimed choir, as it makes a rare visit to Devon for the event.

The opera features a libretto written in Vōv – a language created by Hollywood ‘conlanger’ David J Peterson. Peterson is responsible for the Game of Thrones tongues Dothraki and High Valyrian and many others developed for the big and small screen, and will open the festival with a talk entitled ‘On Designing Languages for Would-be Worlds’.

Vōv has been created exclusively for Professor Miranda and the festival, the fruit of a collaboration between the scientist-composer and Peterson going back to 2016.

Tikum. Durloi.   I am small. We are great.
Loi vōv.   We are love.
Bon gilūr vdak, ulloi qas.   With many bodies, we will not feel cold.
Bon gidīs vdak, ulloi bǝr.   With many children, we will not hunger.
Kinlīk sqen mbau nanahloi.   We will show them our paths.
Kinlīk sqen mvēm hā.   We will teach them of fire.
Abūv qen svēmosloi.   They will keep our knowledge.
Vōvūv loi.   They will love us.
Qen loi.   They are we.
E ohlūv.   And we will be.
Gibil ndrā e ndrā.   From now to then and then.

Watch David talk about the evolution of Vōv.

Like the rest of the festival’s programme of music, film and talks, Lampedusa is grounded in cutting-edge research carried out at the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR), which focuses on exploring the boundary between science and creativity. The compositional technique used to create the score was born during a research residency Professor Miranda undertook at MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he developed a blueprint for a computer system to convert particle collision data from the Large Hadron Collider into music.

As a result, Lampedusa’s music is made up of synthesised sounds and notes that mirror the collisions and movements of some of the smallest yet most energetic particles ever created – the building blocks of matter generated inside CERN’s 7,000-tonne ATLAS detector.

Professor Miranda said:

“Writers and composers already have a connection to the festival theme of multiverse – it is our job to create parallel universes and imaginary worlds.

“CERN’s research investigates the very origins of the universe, but I’ve used the data to compose music for an opera about another universe altogether. The universe we live in may not be the only one out there, and in the same way the Lampedusa of the opera could be one of an infinite number of others in the multiverse.”

David Peterson said:

“I’m really happy to be involved in the festival again this year, I love doing it. Working with Eduardo previously I had developed three stages of Vōv, but this time it is just the earliest stage that we are implanting on the island.

“It’s almost as if Lampedusa shows an entirely different path that humanity could have taken if the world were different, and it started from there.”

The Contemporary Music Festival is now in its 14th year, and is organised by the University’s Arts Institute in partnership with the ICCMR.   

Lampedusa: Behind the curtain

Eduardo’s opera 'Lampedusa' is set in a parallel Shakespearean universe. The plot takes place before the arrival of Prospero and Miranda in Lampedusa, allegedly the island portrayed in Shakespeare’s play 'The Tempest'. The opera tells the story of Sycorax, a refugee from Europe, her son, Caliban, and Ariel. Ariel is an invisible native inhabitant who objects to Caliban’s ambitions of reigning over the island. 

Watch this group discussion with key 'Lampedusa' cast and crew members, including director Victor Ladron de Guevara, choreographer Josh Slater, and performer and dance theatre undergraduate student Hayley Bentley.

Contemporary Music Festival 2019: MULTIVERSE

MULTIVERSE is the theme of University of Plymouth Contemporary Music Festival (CMF) 2019, which celebrates the internationally renowned research combining music, engineering and the life sciences developed at the University of Plymouth’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).

MULTIVERSE proposes a weekend of musical interpretations of the quantum world. 

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