The New school's college of performing arts presents the art of change: an experimental opera by Jean-Baptiste BarriÈre


NEW YORK, December 18, 2019 – The New School's Mannes School of Music, a part of the College of Performing Arts, announces a six-performance run of a newly commissioned experimental opera, The Art of Change, by renowned composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière. 

The Art of Change fuses live performance and philosophy together into a new kind of work that is equal parts opera, performance art, and salon-like gathering of socially conscious artists and thinkers. Improvisation, collective authoring, and spontaneity take center stage in The Art of Change. With software designed by Barrière to capture the melodic and rhythmic pattern of speech, live spoken and pre-recorded dialogue is recorded, processed, and turned into a spontaneously generated score that is interpreted and performed on the fly.

The Art of Change assembles a cast of celebrated performers and thinkers, like Joan La Barbara and Simon Critchley together on stage with College of Performing Arts students who are singers, instrumentalists, and actors. Together, the cast seeks to explore the very notion of change and begins with the question, “what needs to change in the world today”.

The libretto, by philosopher and New School Associate Professor of Philosophy Chiara Bottici, is the result of a shared process in which an initial text was developed through an open-source process that unfolded on Public Seminar – an online journal of ideas, politics and culture supported by The New School. The libretto begins with a synopsis that places the audience and performers within a city that has decided to radically re-organize itself “by adopting the principle of accelerated change and apply it to all and every aspect of social life. The result is a utopian (or dystopian) world that may (or may not) turn out to be ours.”

The Art of Change is a continuation of Mannes’ mission to commission, present, and perform new, experimental, and forgotten works. Other recent work in this area includes the first ever collegiate production of Robert Ashley’s Dust (2017), the world premiere of Julius Eastman’s Symphony No. 2 (2018), and the world premiere of Johanna Beyer’s Cyrnab 2019).


January 16th, 8pm

January 17th, 5pm & 8pm

January 18th, 5pm & 8pm

January 21st, 8pm


Ernst C Stiefel Concert Hall at Arnhold Hall (55 West 13th Street, 4th floor)


The performances are free, please RSVP here.

Creative team:

Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Concept, Video Design & Composition

Chiara Bottici, Libretto

Ashley Tata, Stage Direction

Timo Rissanen, Costume Design

Abigail Hoke-Brady, Lighting Design

Thomas Goepfer, Sound & Video Design

Camilla Hoitenga, Flutes Solo

Levy Lorenzo, Creative Technologist, Percussion

Guest artists:

January 16: Simon Critchley, philosopher and Joan La Barbara, musician

January 17: Cinzia Arruzza, philosopher and Rebekah Heller, musician

January 18: Dmitri Nikulin, philosopher and Ross Karre musician

January 21: Jamieson Webster, psychoanalyst and Joan La Barbara, musician

The College of Performing Arts at The New School (CoPA) was formed in 2015 and brings together the iconic Mannes School of Music, the legendary School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the ground-breaking School of Drama. With each school contributing its unique culture of creative excellence, the College of Performing Arts is a hub for cross-disciplinary collaboration, bold experimentation, innovative education, and world-class performances. 

As a part of The New School, students across CoPA experience a supportive and rigorous environment that provides abundant opportunities for collaboration with students and faculty in a wide array of disciplines including the visual arts, fashion, design and technology, architecture, philosophy, psychology, public policy, advocacy, and more. CoPA has over 1100 students seeking degrees and diplomas in performance, composition, acting, writing, as well as arts management and entrepreneurship. New York City’s Greenwich Village provides the backdrop for the College of Performing Arts, which is housed at Arnhold Hall on West 13th Street and the historic Westbeth Artists Community on Bank Street.

Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and calendar of lectures, screenings, readings, and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.


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Media Contacts:

Will Wilbur,
The New School

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