Cyberiada (opera)

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Opera by Krzysztof Meyer
Krzysztof Meyer.jpg
Krzysztof Meyer, the composer of Cyberiada
Other titleKyberiade
LibrettistKrzysztof Meyer
  • Polish
  • German
Based onThe Cyberiad, short stories by Stanisław Lem
11 May 1986 (1986-05-11)

Cyberiada (also known by its German title Kyberiade) is an opera in three acts (11 scenes) composed by Krzysztof Meyer to a Polish-language libretto by the composer himself, based on The Cyberiad, a series of science fiction short stories by Stanisław Lem. It won the Grand Prix of the Prince Pierre of Monaco composers' competition in 1970 and was first performed in its entirety on 11 May 1986 at the Opernhaus Wuppertal.

Background and performance history[edit]

Meyer's first (and only) opera, Cyberiada was composed between 1967 and 1970. The composer himself wrote the libretto which is based on Stanisław Lem's The Cyberiad, a darkly comic series of science fiction short stories.[1][2][3] The revolutionary approach by Meyer in terms of music included the incorporation of chance into the process of creation known as aleatoricism, and the use of sonorism in orchestration, based on inventing new types of sounds on individual instruments.[2] The opera won the Grand Prix of the Prince Pierre of Monaco composers' competition in 1970. The first act was premiered on Polish television in 1971. The first complete performance of the work took place at the Opernhaus Wuppertal on 11 May 1986 conducted by Jean-François Monnard [fr]. On that occasion, it was performed as Kyberiade in a German translation by Jörg Morgener. The stage director was Friedrich Meyer-Oertel.[4][5]

The opera was given its Polish premiere and sung in the original Polish at the Grand Theatre, Poznań, on 25 May 2013 in honour of Meyer's 70th birthday. It was the first time the opera had been revived since its premiere in Wuppertal. The Poznań production was directed by Ran Arthur Braun and conducted by Krzysztof Słowiński,[6][7] with space-scenography by Justin C. Arienti.[8]


Role (in German) translation Voice type
Der Kosmische Fremde The stranger from the cosmos tenor
Trull, Konstrukteur Trull, constructor of the story-telling machines bass
Der glänzende Ring The shining ring soprano
Königin Genia Queen Genia soprano
König Madrilius der Größte, Herrscher der Vielzuvielen King Madrilius the Greatest, sovereign of the Far Too Many tenor
Briefräger der Vielzuvielen Postman of the Far Too Many mezzo-soprano
Listig, Konstrukteur der Traumschränke Cunning, constructor of the dream cupboards baritone
König Voluptatus King Voluptatus tenor
Ritter Vinodur Knight Vinodur bass
Alte Kyberhexe Old Cyber Witch contralto
Greis Old man bass
Automatthias Automatthew baritone
Im Ohr In the Ear, a miniature computer mezzo-soprano and contralto
Drei erzählende Maschinen: Perfekter Ratgeber, E-Advokat, Rechtscomputer Three story-telling machines: Perfect Advisor, E-Lawyer, Law Computer speaking voices
Volk der Vielzuvielen The "Far Too Many" people, subjects of King Madrilius mixed chorus
Volk der Gewindianer The "Threaded" people, subjects of King Voluptatus chorus of basses
Degeneräle Degenerals, soldiers chorus of tenors
Detektive Detectives male chorus
Prinzessin und junge Tänzerinnen Princess and young dancer girls ballet
Stanisław Lem, on whose stories the opera is based


The setting of the opera is described in German as "Auf der Erde in der Zukunft, im kybernetischen Zeitalter" (On Earth in the future, in the cybernetic era).[9] The libretto is constructed as a futuristic space tale inside a fairy story, following the original text by Lem.[10]

Queen Genia (Genialina) suffers from melancholy. To cheer herself up, she asks her android Trull (a robotic engineer and a powerful supercomputer) to construct robots who can invent fairytales for her amusement. Three machines each entertain her by telling a different story. This is where a fairytale inside a tale begins. However, Trull makes sure that he himself is featured in every one of them.[10]

The first story recounts how Trull builds a supercomputer for Mondrylion (a smarty-boots in Polish), the King of the Far Too Many (named Mandrilius in the German version).[11] When the King tries to get his new computer to destroy Trull, the wily engineer saves himself by a clever trick.

The second story recounts how the subject of King Voluptatus (Król Rozporyk in Polish, i.e. Zipperupus), a constructor named Chytrian (Listig in German), tries to get rid of him because he has completely lost touch with reality after spending too much time in special giant cupboards which generate erotic dreams.[8]

The third story recounts how Automatthias loses his faith in computers after being shipwrecked on a deserted island. He can find no way to escape, even with help of his miniature computer named "Im Ohr" ("In the Ear"). By the time he is eventually rescued, he has become a lifelong foe of technology.

The final insight resulting from these "ironic utopian reflections" on human existence is that only wisdom and truth can save the world, not the pursuit of progress, perfection, and wealth.[11] In the finale, Trull kills a clone of himself.[1]


  1. ^ a b Lynn, Karyl Charna (28 May 2013). "Krzysztof Meyer's Cyberiada receives rare staging in Poznań" Archived 2013-07-18 at Opera Now. Retrieved 18 July 2013
  2. ^ a b Press release (May 2013). "Cyberiada Krzysztof Meyer". Premiera: 25 May 2013 (in Polish). Teatr Wielki w Poznaniu. Archived from the original on 2013-07-18. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  3. ^ Heaphy, Maura (2009). 100 Most Popular Science Fiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies, p. 259 . Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1591587468. Quote: "The Cyberiad (1967) is a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe ruled by robots".
  4. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas and Kuhn, Laura (2005). "Meyer, Krzysztof". Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Retrieved online via HighBeam Research 11 July 2013 (subscription required)
  5. ^ Internationale Musikverlage Hans Sikorski. Krzysztof Meyer[permanent dead link], p. 10. Retrieved 19 July 2013
  6. ^ Coper, Karin (May 2013). "Erstaunliche Wiederaufführung" Archived 2013-06-09 at the Wayback Machine. Opernnetz. Retrieved 11 July 2013 (in German)
  7. ^ Internationale Musikverlage Hans Sikorski (May 2013). "Polish Premiere of Krzysztof Meyer’s Opera Kyberiade"
  8. ^ a b Stefan Drajewski (2013-05-28). "Nie bójcie się opery współczesnej. Recenzja z "Cyberiady"". Kultura (in Polish). Głos Wielkopolski. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  9. ^ Cyberiada (Kyberiade; Krzysztof Meyer nach Stanisław Lem) (in German), retrieved 16 July 2013
  10. ^ a b Agnieszka Misiewicz (12 June 2013). "Cyberopera, czyli czego jeszcze nie widzieliście (Cyberiada)". Cyberiada, Krzysztof Meyer, Teatr Wielki w Poznaniu. Teatralia. Internetowy Magazyn Nr 66/2013. ISSN 1689-6696. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Krzysztof Meyer (*1943). Kyberiade, Op. 15 [1970]. Polish – German by Jörg Morgener" (PDF file, direct download 131 KB). Press release. Sikorski Institute. Retrieved 18 July 2013.

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