One of the least risk-averse American opera houses inaugurated a new era last weekend (4/23). Hosting the world premiere of the opera "Resurrection," the Houston Grand Opera helped mainstream the use of so-called hyper instruments in a traditional environment. Tod Machover, the composer of "Resurrection," has been developing these instruments for about 15 years. Those who are interested in electronic instruments already noticed Machover's work in the past, including prominent musicians such as composer Pierre Boulez, cellist Yo Yo Ma, and theater presenter Andre Heller. The average opera fan, on the other hand, knew very little about hyper instruments in the past. Therefore we want to give a short explanation -- hyper instruments have electronic sensor fields that absorb environmental sounds and movements and analyze them before transforming them into new sound. Some hyper instruments look like towers on a playground, and others like pianos or cellos. Some transform amateur singing into the call of the sirens, while the hyper cello has analyzed Yo Yo Ma's bow stroke to enrich it with cosmic noises. The Houston Opera gave regular opera goers an opportunity to make the acquaintance of hyper instruments. Tod Machover's new work "Resurrection" is based on the novel by the same title written by Leo Tolstoi. It introduces the composer's invention in a rather tame way, as Georg Hirsch reports.

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