Love and money after a pandemic. Conversation with Sergei Timofeyev

“I live in an amazing world where people distance themselves from each other and settle further apart.” Poet and one of the founders of the text group “Orbit” Sergei Timofeyev has written a libretto for the chamber opera at the Gertrudes Street Theater – a fantasy about where we can end up as a result of restrictions, distancing, digitization and the collection of comprehensive information. What human qualities will we preserve?
The next performance of the opera “Kontakts” is planned for December 12.

The events of the opera “Kontakts” will take place in the future, which is now separated by about ten years. Its main character Gustav lives in a comfortable house, from which his nearest neighbors are a kilometer away, but he has access to the world network, where new life takes place. Everything is done by robots, but the world’s currency has become a “contact”, a unit that records any human interaction with any content. Everyone is pushing for “contacts”, while physical distancing – a legacy of pandemics and general digitization – is the prevailing lifestyle.

Artificial intelligence DIA (digital assistant), endowed with a pleasant voice of a woman, lives in Gustav’s house and dreams of gaining a body in order to enter into a full-fledged relationship with his master, about whom he knows literally everything. A new addition gives the assistant sympathy for her master – the DIA starts calculating the options and deciding which is more correct and important instead. Gustav begins to lose control of his personality …

The author of the opera’s music is Edgars Mākens, the director is Ināra Slucka, and the artist is Krišs Salmanis. Accompanied by the string quartet “Juno”, the main parts are performed by the new opera stars Kalvis Kalnins and Kitty Minate. The libretto has been translated into Latvian by Arvis Viguls.

For Sergei Timofeyev, this is not the first work in this genre: in 2014, the National Opera premiered another opera based on his libretto – “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess” – based on the legendary chess party in the Soviet period – Botvinnik against Riga. This time, Timofeyev is trying to look to the future.

I was trying to find another work of art about the future Riga and Latvia. I found only three – Jānis Balozs’ play “Latvian Planning Institute”, the miniseries “Riga-2041” and Jane Steinberg’s novel “Reader”. Mostly everyone writes about the past and present …

In my opinion, this is typical not only for Latvia. People all over the world are afraid to predict the near future for five to ten years – everything is happening so fast and it is influenced by so many factors that the future is really difficult to predict. However, certain trends are emerging. For example, Kadzuo Ishiguro’s novel “Don’t Let Me Out” looked at the relationship between humans and androids raised as organ donors. Or the forerunner of a similar vision for the future – the famous film “The Blade Runner”, based on the story of Philip K. Dick – also tells about the relationship between artificial life and the human race.


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