Q&A: Tod Machover on “Overstory Overture,” his new operatic work

By Peter Dizikes

Composers find inspiration from many sources. For renowned MIT Media Lab composer Tod Machover, reading the Richard Powers novel “The Overstory” instantly made him want to adapt it as an operatic composition. This might not seem an obvious choice to some: “The Overstory” is about a group of people, including a wrongly maligned scientist, who band together to save a forest from destruction.

But Machover’s resulting work, “Overstory Overture,” a 35-minute piece commissioned and performed by the chamber ensemble Sejong Soloists, has come to fruition and will have its world premiere on March 7 in Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. Opera superstar Joyce DiDonato will have the lead role, with Earl Lee conducting. On March 16, the piece will have its second performance, in Seoul, South Korea. MIT News recently talked to Machover about his original new work.

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