The Art of Change Opera is an experimental project which develops a radically new artistic form - open, participative, generative and interactive - addressing the question « what needs to be changed » in the world today.  

Originally conceived by composer and multimedia artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière, with a libretto by philosopher Chiara Bottici, it incorporates specially recorded interviews, and statements from intellectuals, thinkers and activists from all around the world. These video materials are mixed with actors interpreting fragments of texts about change. Speech materials proliferate in music, ‘orchestrated' (some pre-recorded in advance, some live in real-time) and performed, partly by instrumentalists and partly with the help of computer generative compositional processes. 

The Art of Change Opera was commissioned to Jean-Baptiste Barrière by the College of Performing Arts for the occasion of The New School University Centennial.

Professors and students from every part of The New School and beyond are invited to participate to the development of The Art of Change Opera, either by contributing to its ongoing libretto on or through a course/workshop taking place in Fall 2019 and leading to a first series of performances on 16 and 17 January 2020 as part of The New School Centennial celebrations.

The ongoing-libretto: A Public Seminar Endeavour directed by Chiara Bottici

In preparation for The Art of Change Opera, under the direction of Professor Bottici, a specific platform has been built on devoted to preparing “an ongoing libretto.”

The plan is to create a draft of the libretto from a collection of texts on the philosophy of change and its application in the current predicament, and unite them through different possible narrative threads. 

This initial draft of the libretto will be circulated inside and outside of The New School, inviting people to directly contribute to it. Regularly, the comments and suggested changes will be integrated into the on-going libretto, thus enacting a participative, collective writing process. This will continue until the first performances of the opera, scheduled for January 16 & 17, 2020, and possibly be developed further after that.

The platform will work as a way to rethink the question of change through the very specific resources that New School intellectuals have been building during the 100 years of its life, and will thus also contribute to the ongoing centennial celebration.

This corresponds both to the animating spirit of The Art of Change opera and of Public Seminar, which is the living heredity of the legendary New School General Seminar.

The Art of Change Opera Prelude

The Prelude, a preview condensing the spirit of the whole project, consists of a twenty minutes performance which will take place on October 5, 2019, as part of the Night of Philosophy. The Night of Philosophy is part of the programming for the Festival of the New, designed for the Centennial of The New School

The Prelude will include historical video footage, interviews of professors and students from different TNS departments and other materials from intellectuals, thinkers and activists from all around the world, delivering statements about change. Atop the historical materials, philosopher Chiara Bottici will deliver live the initial fragments of the open libretto. Acoustic and electronic instrumentation extends the composition, as flautist Camilla Hoitenga and composer/multi-media artist Jean-Baptist Barrière perform scores partly pre-composed and partly generated in real time from the speech — words unfolding and proliferating into music.

The technology behind The Art of Change Opera

The very special nature of this project utilizes the design and realization of specific software to capture vocal performances of participants reading texts, transcribe them musically in real time, transforming them according to compositional rules, and display them in music notation, so that they can be sight-read and performed by musicians throughout the opera.

A Course/Workshop

A course/workshop will take place during the Fall 2019, meant as an experimental laboratorium to develop The Art of Change Opera, a radical new form of multimedia performance, to be premiered January 16 & 17, 2020, as part of the TNS Centennial.

Participants will be involved directly in the step by step practical preparation and realization for the performance of the opera.

It involves: the dramatic staging of historical and original texts; pre-composed instrumental and electronic music, as well as performing/improvising around computer generated and processed musical materials transcribed in real time from the texts; and prepared and live video transformations.

The various possibilities of interactions through real time software between speech/music/image will be specially investigated throughout the class.

All students – and possibly professors - from all departments of The New School concerned by the subject matter of change, socially and in new artistic forms, are welcome to participate and contribute to the development of the project and/or the performances.

For instance (not exhaustive list):

NSSR: students from all departments interested in ways to connect thinking and new art forms.

Music: composers (especially those interested by open forms, electronics, virtual scores), instrumentalists and singers (preferably with sight-reading capacity and interest with improvisation and electronics interaction), improvisers,

Drama: directors, writers, actors, stage & light designers,

Lang: students from the liberal arts curriculum, performers (e.g. dancers), students of social justice, journalism,

Parsons: artists and designers,

Students interested from programs not listed here, are invited to contact Jean-Baptiste Barrière ( to discuss possible participation and contributions.

Credits for  The Art of Change Opera

Jean-Baptiste Barrière, composition, video & general conception

Chiara Bottici, libretto

Ashley Tata, stage direction

Camilla Hoitenga, flutes

Thomas Goepfer, video and sound design

with the participation of

Timo Rissanen (fashion designer, Professor at Parsons, TNS)

Joan La Barbara (composer, singer, choir conductor, Professor at CoPa, TNS)

Lorenzo Levy (composer, percussionist, Assistant Professor of Creative Technology at CoPa, TNS)

& students of various departments of  TNS

Credits for the trailer

Camilla Hoitenga, bass flute

Extracts of the libretto performed by Thomas Kellner, Halie Ecker & Chiara Bottici

Jean-Baptiste Barrière, composition, video & realization

François Galard, images pre-processing

Isabelle Barrière, color grading

Video sources


The Art of Change Opera

Multimedia show