the record player

An opera about the first record ever made and the origin and meaning of the turntable

The Record Player and Other Stories from the Future

Created by
Tim Brady (composer)
John Sobol (librettist)


"The record was the first time a technology existed where the average person could easily bring, into their own home, a living performance captured and immortalized. Time made audible.The idea that the actual passage of time – the very stuff of human existence – could be transferred to an external media, stored and manipulated, was a very radical idea. To me, it was the beginning of our current media and technology obsessed societies, ground zero for the Smartphone and the Internet."
- Tim Brady, composer

A historical fantasy from the future about recorded sound and the people who invented it, mastered it, scratched it, stole it, remixed it and were transformed by it over a century and a half, cutting together threads and characters as diverse as the explosion of the island of Krakatau, George Martin and Yoko Ono, Robert Johnson, Sun Ra, hip hop turntablism, legendary Canadian soprano Emma Albanim and Emile Berliner, the inverntor of the turntable, the microphone and the record.

The opera references a multiplicity of musical and vocal styles reflecting the distinct musical universes of its characters, even as it remains always firmly rooted in Tim Brady's acclaimed musical vocabulary. John Sobol's latest libretto ranges from incantatory magic-realist poetry to conversational comedy to lyrical reflections on sound and suffering. The opera's visual environment is anchored by Michael Montanaro's evocative visual projections. The opera's two acts feature 10 distinct scenes, including the carefully orchestrated and choreographed Orchestra of Gramophones, featuring the DJ, actors and musicians playing records. The opera works its way chronologically through scenes that take place in 1883, 1899, 1902, 1929, 1945, 1971, 1995, 2010 and 2025; exploring themes, posing questions, dreaming dreams, making connections, acknowledging mysteries and celebrating the deep and delightful comings and goings of recorded sound in a unique, innovative and ambitious production.

The Record Player and other stories from the future is the second opera by composer/librettist team Tim Brady and John Sobol. Their first opera, The Salome Dancer, was also directed by Anne-Marie Donovan and premiered at the King StreetTheatre in Kitchener, Ontario, presented by NUMUS as part of the Open Ears Festival in 2005.

Work-in-progress