Faced with catastrophe, to whom ought we to pray right now? To what god, or maybe to Artificial Intelligence? Perhaps indeed, given that faith in humanity is failing us, a natural world that had been allegedly ours to control has revolted once again, and the paradoxes of human existence, despite centuries of scholarly inquiry, remain unsolvable? In moments of weakness, the human mind goes back to its old ruts—folk tales, beliefs, traditions, conspiracy theories, in new and old renditions. This is easier, because faith in science requires time and sacrifices; there are no simple answers here. At the intersection of the worlds of science and faith, the practical and the extrasensory, the quantifiable and the intuitive, is where Kris Kelvin begins his journey. Science-fiction, mythic Contact, the existence of alien civilizations and the work of inexplicable forces: all this joins together in Lem’s ocean planet studied by the Solaris station scientists. Analyzing its radiation and morphology, they are essentially putting themselves to the test, their emotions and pasts, their limitations and will to survive. And what if the unsurpassable strangeness they are forced to confront comes from the same source as themselves?
In the opera of “Solaris,” in place of the traditional opera vocals we have songs generated by a computer algorithm, assisted by Artificial Intelligence engaged by the actors’ voices. The song is also present in the form of the vocalist’s improvisations, which weave into the instrumental fabric to comment on the pulsing and constantly changing sonic world of Solaris. The instrumental ensemble is an integral part of the Solaris world, and the orchestral fabric is written to nimbly accompany the action on stage, at times assuming a narrative function.
The play is co-produced by the Opera Rara Festival, H. Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre, Hashtag Ensemble, and Warsaw Stage Society.
The Jagiellonian University is a partner of the performance.
Premiere: February 1, 2024
at the SOLARIS National Center of Synchotron Radiation, Jagiellonian University
performances: February 2, 3, 4