Philipp Lachenmann: DELPHI Rationale


My Square Lady: Of Humans and Machines

21.05.2015, Berlin | What makes a human being human? How can an object or a “primitive being” be formed to become human? Where is the line between man and machine? In cooperation with the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin and the Komische Oper Berlin, the German-British performance group Gob Squad has searched for possible answers to these questions. For eighteen months, they practiced with robot Myon and together explored the world of opera. The results can be seen in the production My Square Lady, which will première at the Komische Oper Berlin on June 21, 2015. Starring: robot Myon!

My Square Lady

Taking their cues from George Bernhard Shaw’s play Pygmalion and Frederick Loewe’s musical My Fair Lady, the internationally renowned German-British performance collective Gob Squad, the scientist Manfred Hild, and the Komische Oper Berlin set out on an exciting voyage of discovery with the humanoid robot Myon. Programmed as a self-learning robot since its “birth,” Myon is to explore opera – “the power plant of emotion” – in all its facets and learn what it means to feel, express and elicit human emotions. To this end, the performers and the scientists have engaged in an eighteen-month training program with the robot. Myon is capable of perceiving – and recalling – when a human being tenses up or relaxes in certain situations: such behavioral mechanisms are recorded into its memory and can be subsequently retrieved. Whether Myon is cut out to be a human being or an opera star will have to be seen at the end of the season on the big stage.

The opera production My Square Lady is unusual in every respect: casting a robot as the protagonist is not the only revolutionary aspect; so is the willingness of an opera house, including all its departments as well as its conductor, to spend eighteen months pursuing new performance approaches with an off-theater group. The additional fact that the opera staff become subjects of a scientific experiment while at the same time training and coaching a robot makes possible new insights into “individual systems” and inspired the Ernst Schering Foundation to support the project.

My Square Lady: Of Humans and Machines. An Exploration of and through Opera

Premiere: Sunday, June 21, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Komische Oper Berlin

Behrenstr. 55-57
10117 Berlin

Pre-premiere matinee: Sunday, June 14, 2015, 12:00 noon (from 10:00 a.m. breakfast at the opera)

Additional performances:
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 7:00 p.m.

Tickets: 12–85 euro (available at the Komische Oper Berlin)

Arrangement and musical direction: Arno Waschk | Concept, direction, set design and costumes: Gob Squad | Robot development and supervision: Manfred Hild & team | Dramaturgy: Ulrich Lenz, Christina Runge | Chorus: Andrew Crooks | Video: Kathrin Krottenthaler, Miles Chalcraft | Lighting: Diego Leetz
Robot: Myon | Gob Squad: Johanna Freiburg, Sean Patten, Bastian Trost | Komische Oper Berlin: Katarina Morfa, Christiane Oertel, Caren van Oijen, Mirka Wagner, Bernhard Hansky, Carsten Sabrowski, Christoph Späth

More information on the production is available here.

A cooperation of the Komische Oper Berlin with the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin and Gob Squad, supported through the Doppelpass fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the Ernst Schering Foundation, presented by taz.die tageszeitung and zitty Berlin.

Photos: Iko Freese /

My Square Lady



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