Underline, physical opera for 4 dancers and 4 musicians


Human condition, geometry, and human-machine interaction are three key elements in which the music of Underline revolves around. Each of these topics is represented throughout the piece by specific geometrical objects, physically intense/reiterative body movements, and the manipulation of several utensils and machines. In an attempt to embark on a sonic journey in which the ethereal sounds, highly repetitive actions and mechanical motion reflect specific ideas from the book Flatland by E. A. Abbott, as well as the storyboard by the visual artist Deville Cohen.

The performers generate sound by manipulating a collection of cylinders of different sizes, employing numerous techniques and interacting with them in a variety of ways, sometimes in combination with machines or as extensions of their own bodies. Every performance technique is connected to a specific movement, and the way it is presented depicts a different visual perception of the instrument: from a line, to a square, and to a cylinder, depending on its size, angle and its distribution in space.

The piece can probably be seen as a nonlinear transition between human agency and machine interaction, a metaphor of our own capacities and how our physical dimensions delimit our individual worlds and the perception of our overall environment.

The sound vocabulary of the work ranges from pure tones (filtered sine waves, tube resonances) to noise and more complex sounds (wind, machine turbulence, motor amplification) and pulses that create driving rhythms or beats (sensors triggering pulses, tube stroking and scrubbing misc. materials). All these sounds combine and superimpose in different trajectories or stationary positions on stage, creating complex structures and flows of energy interacting in a given scene, sometimes illustrating it and other times opposing it.

Prologue: Variable Energy Vortex For 2 dancers, electrical conductivity and sine waves

I. Coaxial Rotors For 3 musicians and cotton candy machines

II. Parallel Magnetic Fields For 1 musician and prepared PVC pipe

III. Lithium Flux For 4 musicians, 4 prepared PVC pipes and one prepared dancer

IV. Forced Particle Accelerator For 4 musicians, 8 prepared PVC pipes and 4 dancers

V. Cubic Voltage Generator For 4 musicians, 16 prepared PVC pipes, pressure sensors and 4 Dancers

VI. Centrifugal Spheres and Collapse 4 musicians, 16 prepared PVC tubes, 2 cotton candy machines, 2 prepared bicycles, 2 electric saws, 4 dancers and 1 violinist

Commissioner: Munich Biennale in co-production with Deutsche Oper Berlin

Duration: 70 minutes