Photo: „Neural Glitch“ by Mario Klingemann and AI algorithm, 2018 (used by permission)

A bold idea

This is the bold idea behind our Machine Learning research: An Artificial Intelligence becomes the protagonist of an interactive music theatre. The piece is based on the European legend of Parzival, a medieval character who grew up alone and conflict-free in the forest, meets three knights and decides to leave the forest to become a knight himself. (ai = Artificial Intelligence) is a curious and creative machine. It, too, first developed far away from any civilization in the computer laboratory, meets the audience in our performance and then leaves its protected space to learn about and understand the human attributes.

Reality check

The opera consists of many interlinking artistic and technological components, pushing boundaries on a scale not often seen before. Though an initial funding round has been successful to some extent, we learned that a two phase approach is needed to bring the full opera from vision to completion.

For this reason we proposed to use the grant already provided by the Stimuleringsfonds to develop a prototype. We then applied for other fundings, too, for further prototypes. Through this, we are now able to research the core artistic and technological challenges that the full opera faces. Many of the research questions and goals defined in our original proposal still apply, Only their scale and outcomes are different. With the gained knowledge and newly established interdisciplinary Pan-European partnerships, we will start a second funding round, using the prototypes as a driver.


Check out a presentation of the concept here:

With this Mathis Nitschke was a guest at several conferences, one of them being the Karajan Music Tech in Salzbrug, where he met the collaboration partner Patrick van der Smagt, head of the basic machine learning research grou ARGMAX at Volkswagen group.


" is a learning machine, a computer model which 'grew up' in the computer lab. We, the audience enter the computer lab and interact with Parzival." Interview with Mathis Nitschke, Composer and theatre maker. Host: Julia Binek, Karajan Institute, SalzburgProducer: Tatianna Peckham, Karajan Institute, Salzburg

Gepostet von Karajan Music Tech am Samstag, 7. September 2019 seeks to …

• create art with the tools of Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence and enable aesthetic experiences that at the same time critically reflect on the applied methods

• tell a story of AI (Artificial Intelligence) through the perspective of an AI
• change your perception of Artificial Intelligence
• provide you with a new perspective on human intelligence
• contribute to the discourse on machine creativity by striving for an active partnership between man and machine throughout the production process

• use the legend of Parzival to debate the importance of empathy to our society
• unfold the power of this inherently European story to unleash what might be specifically European values

• use one of the most European cultural achievements: the orchestra
• let you experience the orchestra as a living organism, from within the orchestra

• bring together the most capable and innovative Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality artists of our time into one team
• use the most contemporary technologies like Augmented Reality, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things for artistic reflection of themselves
• actively use the smartphone as a constant companion of the audience members and include it in the artistic experience
• bring together a wide variety of interest groups into one social experience


Music theatre and Digitality

Mathis Nitschke wrote a blog article about his motivations here: