This new opera begins with the synthetic voice of an android. The humanoid robot equipped with AI stands at the center of the stage as if it were void, although the opera is a human-centric format. As the French philosopher Roland Barthes said long ago, Japan has a paradox: it does have a center, but this center is empty.
The android named “Alter4” is surrounded by five Japanese monks, approx. fifty French orchestra – Appassionato, and the piano and electronics by composer Keiichiro Shibuya. Alter4 sings music composed by Keiichiro Shibuya but also improvises its own melody on the spot by real-time synchronizing the monk’s chanting. Some lyrics are excerpts from prominent human philosophers and novelists, while others are AI-generated (GPT) texts corresponding to 1200-year-old Buddhist chants. When the past meets the future, this opera opens up a new model of harmony that transcends time and space.