The Robots: a WORLD PREMIERE chamber opera by Carolyn Chen


Fri May 31 2024 at 07:30 pm to Sun Jun 02 2024 at 05:00 pm


Bread & Salt | San Diego, CA

A World Premiere sci-fi opera about the impending robot uprising.
About this Event

Over the past few seasons Project [BLANK] has established a growing reputation as San Diego’s most innovative “opera company to watch” (San Diego Union-Tribune). We will close our sixth season with THE ROBOTS, an opera we commissioned from composer Carolyn Chen and our most ambitious project to date. This genre-bending operatic adaptation of an early sci-fi play from 1920 — Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek — takes place on an isolated island where a workforce of mass-produced humanoid robots gradually gains self-awareness and revolts against the human creators. Čapek’s play first coined the term “robot” from the Czech word for “slave”, and was a strong condemnation of exploitative labor practices in the early 20th Century. Chen’s adaptation updates the material and speaks to the current crisis in American labor by integrating the perspectives of contemporary local workers who are monitored, supervised, and replaced by automation. Performed by a diverse cast of some of the best singers in the region, Chen’s exuberant and eclectic score will come to life in this revolutionary new production, immersing the entire audience into the action of the robot uprising!


Mr. Domin, the factory General Manager: Leslie Ann Leytham, mezzo-soprano

Helena Glory, daughter of the robots' inventor: Mariana Flores-Bucio, soprano

Sulla, Chief Office Administrator Robot: Danielle Perrault, contralto

Mr. Alquist, factory mechanic and clerk: Jonathan Nussman, baritone

Dr. Gall, head of the Psychological Department: Miguel Zazueta, tenor

Mr. Fabry, cheif accountant and engineer: Paul Young, Jr., baritone

Radius, robot who leads the uprising: Shelby Condray, bass

Event Photos

CAROLYN CHEN has made music for supermarket, demolition district, and the dark. Her work reconfigures the everyday to retune habits of our ears through sound, text, light, and movement. Her studies of the guqin, a Chinese zither traditionally played for private meditation in nature, have informed her thinking on listening in social spaces. Recent projects include an audio essay on a scream and commissions for Klangforum Wien and the LA Phil New Music Group.

Described by The New York Times as “the evening’s most consistently alluring … a quiet but lush meditation,” Chen’s work has been supported by the American Academy in Berlin, the Fulbright Program, ASCAP Foundation’s Fred Ho Award, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Stanford University Sudler Prize, and commissions from Green Umbrella, MATA Festival, and impuls Festival. The work has been presented at festivals and exhibitions in 25 countries, at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kitchen, Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Institute for Provocation (Beijing). She has been fortunate to work with ensembles including SurPlus, Southland, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Aperture, andPlay, loadbang, koan, Dog Star Orchestra, The Reader’s Chorus, Pamplemousse, Chamber Cartel, orkest de ereprijs, S.E.M., red fish blue fish, Wild Rumpus, and The Syndicate for New Arts.

Writing and recordings are available in MusikTexte, Experimental Music Yearbook, The New Centennial Review, Leonardo Music Journal, Perishable, the wulf, and Quakebasket. Chen earned a Ph.D. in music from UC San Diego, and a M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature and B.A. in music from Stanford University, with an honors thesis on free improvisation and radical politics. She lives in Los Angeles.


Where is it happening?

Bread & Salt, 1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego, United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:


USD 0.00 to USD 25.00


Host or Publisher PROJECT [BLANK]

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