Semperoper Dresden

For the First Time Artificial Intelligence Sings Opera Aria

The Semperoper Dresden belongs to the most famous and traditional opera houses in the world. It opened the 2022/2023 season with a world premiere: In "chasing waterfalls," for the first time, musical theater is not based exclusively on human creative power, but artificial intelligence works autonomously on the production. Based on algorithms, KI creates music, lyrics and vocals in phases without human intervention. The cross-media opera project was created in collaboration with the Semperoper Dresden, the composer Angus Lee, the Performing Arts artist collective phase 7 and the Studio for Sonic Experiences kling klang klong. T-Systems MMS supported the project as a cooperation partner and in the development of a vocal voice based on artificial intelligence.

Customer Benefit

Setting new opera trends by expanding the classic portfolio with Artificial Intelligence

Addressing new, technology-oriented target groups by using state-of-the-art technology

National and international media attention due to world novelty

  • Peter Theiler, Artistic Director of the Saxon State Opera Dresden

    „Many works have already been premiered at the time-honoured Semperoper, because the house has always stood for innovation. That’s why we are still trying to reinterpret things today, after 400 years of analogue opera history. But for this we need the right partners, which we have found in T-Systems MMS, among others. contributed by “chasing waterfalls.” That was a masterpiece. Thank you for that!“

Reference Summary


Development and synthesis of a vocal voice based on artificial intelligence



Architecture of a neural network with language models such as GPT-3, MusicAudioBot and RAVE as well as text-to-speech training of AI



The AI sings a duet with the leading actress as well as a self-sufficient seven-minute solo part


  • Requirements

    An AI as an independent singing part of the opera

    With the premiere of “chasing waterfalls”, the Semperoper leaves traditional paths of classical music theatre: it opens up new horizons of opera production with the participation of Artificial Intelligence. Meaningfully translated as “wanting to grasp the incomprehensible”, the opera deals with the impact that artificial intelligence has on our human, social and creative being. The staging aims to stimulate the ethical and philosophical discourse in the relationship between humans and machines, as well as their own digital twin. AI is not an end in itself, but part of history.
    T-Systems MMS supported the three-year project as a technology consultant and enabler with extensive AI experience. The specific instruction of the data scientists of T-Systems MMS to the AI was: “Write an operatic aria in which you reflect yourself. You can be cynical and humorous.”
    A major challenge for all those involved in the project was that the context of the opera was still unclear for a long time, but the date for its premiere was fixed.

  • Solution

    Neural networks get singing lessons

    To train an AI, large amounts of data are required. Example algorithms for learning a voice already exist, but not for operas and not suitable for Angus Lee’s music. The AI experts at T-Systems MMS therefore first compiled a data set. For two weeks, Norwegian soprano Eir Inderhaug sung 50 songs in four different styles – pianissimo to forte – in the studio. These recordings served as a source to generate a vocal synthesis. The artificial voice was trained on a T-Systems MMS-specific GPU cluster. The data scientists of kling klang klong and T-Systems MMS then designed the architecture of a neural network that records notes and texts and generates sound from them. The programmed and trained algorithm now texts, sings and composes a scene of the opera for each performance. T-Systems MMS has developed a frontend for the synthesis, so that the audio files can be generated directly by the artists of Phase 7 and kling klang klong. In other passages of the opera, which are sung by the AI, the lyrics and notes are already known.
    T-Systems MMS also provides the computer capacities required for processing.

  • Benefit

    Reinventing Opera

    With the acclaimed first AI opera in the world, the Semperoper Dresden opens up new horizons of opera production and thus becomes a trendsetter. By combining AI with performing arts, the production creates a new space for interaction for cutting-edge high-tech and classic operatic elements. With this experiment, the traditional house is addressing a younger, tech-savvy target group in addition to the classical opera audience. At the same time, the premiere gained enormous media attention with numerous press releases – in Germany and beyond: “chasing waterfalls” will be performed next at the New Vision Performing Arts Festival in Hong Kong.
    The forward-looking opera also makes a critical contribution to the debate about what humans will decide for themselves in the future and what they leave to algorithms. “Chasing waterfalls” also encourages the audience to think about future digital opportunities and limits, as well as to discuss self-determination and shared responsibility.
    The field of tension between man and machine is thus interpreted in a completely new way and in addition creates visibility for the subject of artificial intelligence. Since AI acts differently in every performance, the opera is also characterized by an unpredictable moment of surprise.

About the Semperoper Dresden

The Semperoper Dresden, named after its architect Gottfried Semper, is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in the world and is famous for its outstanding acoustics. It combines tradition, musical history and unique sound in an unmistakable way with innovation, inspiration and emotion. At the highest artistic level, it brings opera, concert and ballet to the people of Dresden and beyond to the world. Tradition and renewal are programmatic for the work of the Semperoper Dresden.
With numerous world premieres of works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, among others, opera history has already been written here in the past, and today, too, the Semperoper feels committed to its history as a world premiere house. The Semperoper Dresden is also the permanent home of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden under its current chief conductor Christian Thielemann. With an occupancy rate of over 90 percent for its 1,430 seats, the Semperoper Dresden is a beacon in the international cultural landscape.

An Artificial Intelligence Opera
Storyline and arias texted by the AI
to the page of the Semper Opera

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