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.

One of the essential subjects of Buddhism, known as esoteric Buddhism, is the affirmation of desire. It is interesting to note that while Western operas deal with human death and love, similar themes are hidden in oriental prayers; ultimately, it is said that “sex is an interpenetration of the boundaries between self and other, infinitely distant from the ego.” So what can we feel when an android interprets and sings the ancient prayer, which sounds like an opera lyric?

This empty symbol may dissolve the differences and conflicts between East and West, human and AI, and self and other. This opera is like bringing a soul to something without it – moreover, the soul resides not in the individual but in the relationship between human beings and technology.


Android is a mirror.
Music is a mirror.
It is a reflection of yourself.

Ten years after the success of THE END, an opera without humans for Vocaloid with HATSUNE MIKU at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Keiichiro Shibuya returns to the theatre with his most ambitious work to date, Android Opera Mirror, which will have its world premiere on June 21st.

Android Opera Mirror creates a new form of opera by bringing together technology and human expression: an AI-equipped humanoid singing robot called “Alter4”, French orchestra – Appassionato, Japanese Buddhist chants by Five monks with 1200 years of history from Koyasan, and a composer Keiichiro Shibuya’s piano and electronic music.

Technology here serves emotion. A new emotion, never felt.

Supported by
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Ambassade du Japon en France
EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee
Fondation Franco-Japonaise Sasakawa
Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.
Mirailab Bioscience Inc.
Android And Music Science Laboratory
Osaka University of Arts
Communication Design Center

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