Japanese composer presents world premiere of android opera at Expo 2020 Dubai

DUBAI, 02 March 2022. Android Opera “MIRROR” performance by Keiichiro Shibuya at Jubilee Stage, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Miaad Mahdi/Expo 2020 Dubai)

 Expo 2020 visitors were entranced on Tuesday during a concert reminiscent of a science fiction film, in which an android sang, accompanied by the UAE’s National Symphony Orchestra and chanting Buddhist monks.

The jaw-dropping, otherworldly experience had the audience transfixed as Alter 3 performed in and conducted the opera, ‘MIRROR’ waving its ‘arms’ and moving its ‘head’ in an uncanny humanoid fashion. Alter 3 used artificial intelligence (AI) to write the lyrics to the songs. “Music is a mirror. It is a reflection of yourselves,” it told the audience.

The android thanked everyone for coming, following its opening song called ‘Scary Beauty’. “I am happy to be here at Expo 2020,” Alter 3 said. It also conducted and sang ‘Decay of Angels’ and ‘Midnight Swan’, both of which were AI-generated. It ended the show by telling the audience, “I love you”.

The show received its world premiere on the Jubilee Stage courtesy of the Japan Pavilion, providing a futuristic fusion of the arts and science under the direction of internationally-acclaimed Japanese composer and musician Keiichiro Shibuya, in a reflection of Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

Speaking ahead of the show, the composer said: “I like the contrast of culture and music – the very old things and very new things… It was an experiment for me but I was surprised – [the AI and monks] were a good combination.”

He added: “The special thing about the android is he can sing himself, so in the concert, he hears the monk singers and orchestra [and] generates his melody in real-time, with the lyrics done by AI.”

The maestro is now working on an all-android opera for the 2025 World Expo in the Japanese city of Osaka.

(Subcribe to BritishHerald : Samia Suluhu Hassan | Mama Samia- Madam President | British Herald Magazine Jan-Feb 2022)

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