Robot chamber opera for soprano, tenor, robot and ensemble

Project Info

Project Description


Settembre 29, 2018

21.00 – 22.00

Auditorium “Enrico Caruso” – Gran Teatro Giacomo Puccini, Torre del Lago (LU)

Can music animate a robot? “Animate” is meant in the sense of giving it a soul …


Scientific Committee: Franco Moretti, Marialina Marcucci, Giorgio Del Ghingaro, Arti Ahluwalia, Marcello Lippi, Diego Sánchez Haase, Gergely Kesselyak, Pericle Salvini, Monica Murero, Franco Mosca.



The opera

Dr. Streben is fundamentally inspired by the myth of Pygmalion, with particular reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to the De rerum natura of Paracelsus, as well as to the Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The libretto is inspired by the poetry Dualismo by Arrigo Boito.


In Ovid’s Pygmalion, a sculptor modeled a naked and ivory female statue, of which he had fallen in love considering her his feminine ideal (Galatea). On the occasion of the tribute in honor of Aphrodite, who went to the temple of the goddess, he begged her to give him the sculpture in marriage, to transform it in a human creature: the goddess consented. He saw himself the statue slowly animate, breathe and open her eyes.
Dr. Richard Streben is a direct evolution of Pygmalion. Unlike his predecessors, Dr. Richard Streben does not believe in Gods or magic formulas. He believes, however, in the alchemy of robotics. If robotics is grafted onto the human body, it can “have” a soul. The work also aims to be a sort of Turing Test, which evolves between robot, audience and Dr. Streben. This is done by involving audience in first person through technology.
At the entrance of the show, people (audience) can connect their mobile phone to the “robot” through an app. Thanks to this it will be possible to “see” the opera from the point of view of its eyes too. In the end, when there will be the transformation of Dr. Streben from human to cyborg, that is when he engages parts of robot on his body, the audience will see on cellphones what he will see, the Streben cyborg, or rather‬ Umy the robot and no more the mental projection of Galatea.


Dr. Streben is constantly working in his laboratory improving the robot Umy with the aim of transforming it into an android. Slowly the myth of Pygmalion becomes reality and Dr. Streben falls ill with agalmatophilia, falling in love with “his” robot. Unlike Pygmalion, Dr Streben, despite he projects the mental image of Galatea (the Soprano) on Umy, he knows that a man of science can not turn a robot into a human being, at least into a perfect android. So, he will take the decision to transform himself into a cyborg, grafting his body to a computer through an exoskeleton. At that point he will only see Umy …
The work ends with two hands trying to touch each other, as in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment …



Concept and music by
Girolamo Deraco [Italy]

Libretto by
Vincenzo Reale [Italy]

Marco Mustaro, Dr Streben (Tenor) [Italy]
Agnes Molnar, Galatea (Soprano) [Hungary]
RoboThespian, Umy (Robot) [England]

String quintet from Conservatorio di Benevento [Italy]

Special guest Etymos Ensemble
Thorwald Jørgensen, Theremin (or Electric Violin) [The Netherlands]
Tony Capula, Clarinet [Italy]
David Whitwell, Trombone [New York, USA]
Diego Desole, Percussion [Italy]
Alberto Gatti, Sound Designer [Italy]

Diego Sánchez Haase [Paraguay]

Video scenography
Lorenzo Vignando [Italy]

Stage Director
Cataldo Russo [Italy]



In collaboration with

Fondazione Festival Pucciano, Torre del Lago Puccini

Università di Pisa, Centro di Ricerca “E. Piaggio”

Cluster – Associazione di compositori, Lucca


With the support of

Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca, Banca Versilia Lunigiana e Garfagnana (BVLG), Teatro del Giglio, Club Unesco Lucca, Città di Viareggio, Kedrion, Mexican Embassy, Fondazione Italia – Giappone, Antica Norcineria, Congreso de la Naciòn – Centro Cultural de la Republica CABILDO – Lucca Promos