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JacobTV: THE NEWS, a reality opera at the Metropolitan Museum

The NY premiere performance of JacobTV’s THE NEWS was presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, April 17, 18 following a conversation “Are We Consuming the News—or Is It Consuming Us?” with Twitter News, broadcast, documentary and digital journalists on Tuesday, April 14.

Dutch composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis (JacobTV) debuted the New York edition of his multimedia reality opera “The News” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 17th, performed by Fulcrum New Music Project with Stephen Burns, Artistic Director, featuring mezzo soprano Nora Fischer and rhythm vocalist Loire. JacobTV’s music is a blend of classical and world music, blues, jazz, rock, and pop, which he synchronizes with non-fiction footage from the international media, based on speech grooves. Two singing anchors present breaking news from their newsroom, accompanied by a nine piece band and a huge screen that shows manipulated news items about politics, economy, religion, war and peace, showbiz and trivialities. The videos have been created by Jan Boiten, Kristien Kerstens and JacobTV.

JacobTV’s groundbreaking multimedia opera raises questions about the evolution of political satire in a changing media landscape. Where is the line today between “real” and “fake news? How do emerging technologies effect our production and consumption of news? What is the role of political satire in the information age and when is its expression worth risking lethal backlash?

“JacobTV is preoccupied with American media and world events and draws raw materials from those sources. His work possesses an explosive strength and raw energy combined with extraordinarily intricate architectural design” – Limor Tomer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, General Manager of Concerts and Lectures



Unique discussion between President Obama and Gov. Sarah Palin.‘But we’re gonna keep moving forward on the agenda the American people elected us to move forward on.’ Suddenly Mr.President is interrupted by someone in the back: ‘It’s not okay!’Obama: ‘Who… who’s that back there?’ Sarah Palin: ‘I disagree with him!’ Obama: ‘We have a fundamental disagreement with the other side.’ Palin: ‘We need a fundamental restoration of America!’ Obama: ‘What the heck are you talking about?’Palin: ‘Keep politics out of it then!’ Obama: ‘This is a democracy, that’s how it works!’ Palin: ‘That is stupid on steroids!’ Obama: ‘I’m sorry?’ Palin: ‘Come on! A little less talk, a lot more action. Mr. Obama: Enough is enough! If I were in charge…Thank God that more and more Americans are waking up to the hypocrisy and lack of common sense and some of the nefarious intent of them, in Washington.’ .


Paris Hilton interviews Lady Gaga at a Nokia party in London, April 2010. PH: So, Lady Gaga, you are incredible, you’ve become an icon. LG: No I haven’t, no! PH: Alright, you won’t admit it, but I’m gonna say it to you: you are, you are a fashion icon, I’m impressed, I’m loving your music. You said that you liked me…PH: What is your inspiration? LG: Media culture and obsession with FAME! PH: How amazing, and I’m standing here with Mrs. Fame! I’d love to do a song with you …I love her! .. .


A woman in Bagdad speaks to the world: I’d like to say something, to the world. We are destroyed. If they are talking about democracy and freedom: it’s never going to happen. From ‘Inside Iraq’, an 80-minute documentary by Mike Shiley. .


According to Ann Coulter, oil is a good reason to go to war. Congressman: ‘Mister Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment and we shouldn’t ignore that we go to war over oil!. We went to war over oil in the Persian Gulf.’ Ann Coulter: ‘We need oil. That’s a good reason to go to war! Going to war just for oil? Of course we should go to war for oil, it’s like saying: We’re going to war just for oxygen, just for food… We need oil!’  . .

DO & SAY According to a reporter from the Chicago Stock Exchange, the bounce or decline in the market will depend on what politicians do and what they say:‘What they say and what they do are two different things, we’ll have to see what they do, we’re hearing what they say. Can I open my business door tomorrow morning? Can I get a loan? Can I service my commercial paper, can I make ends meet? That’s gonna be the the issue! . .




News is often bad news and it doesn’t look good this time either: ‘It’s not looking good: We see a small dog on the highway!’ ‘It wasn’t exactly a high speed chase on this Arizona Freeway, but the target proved pretty hard to catch! It looked like a little Yorkie, that dog. A dog escaped from a car that rolled over nearby and this puppy could move! Shaking one driver and dodging a motorcycle cop, the dog ran right alongside the fast moving traffic of the Red Mountain Freeway. Officers were able to stop traffic, but not the pooch! It bolted for the other shoulder, docking the police one more time! Officer Martin Bennett sped ahead for another try, knowing the news helicopters were heading above…’ .


In her yearly Throne Speech in The Hague, Dutch Queen Beatrix speaks to the members of the Parliament: ‘The present economic situation demands extraordinary measures. The government is asking everyone to make a contribution in the best traditions of our country. An important aim of our foreign policy is the encouragement of democratic values, human rights, stability and peace in the world.. .



A young Somali woman who has fled the civil war, talks about the violence she has escaped and the realities of her life as a refugee in Dagahaley camp for more than 100,000 people. Today, all we are left with, is the whistling of bullets in our heads. We pray that this peace will last. Life in Somalia is very hard. I don’t know where my husband is. One night we were at home, and two men fired blindly at us. My husband escaped, I stayed with my children. Each morning, armed men searched for my husband. They asked me: ”Have you seen him?” They hit me with their rifle butts. It was atrocious, so we left to find a safer place. We stay here, powerless.



“One cold morning in the winter of 2009 I came across the ABC studios in State Street Chicago. From outside I witnessed a live tv broadcast. While anchors presented the news from behind their desk, surrounded by cameras, monitors and lighting, the city was reflected in the huge glass walls. At once I knew I was going to make an opera about the media, about the ’reality’ of news. Most operas are based on fiction. As an artist, I am not interested in fiction. I agree with Mark Twain, that ’Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t’.

The media are social institutions with a duty in society, but they have also become an industry that wants to make profit. And so a lot of news has become infotainment, sometimes drenched with emotion. A lot what we see on tv has been manipulated in some kind of way. A non stop mixture of reality and imagination. Today, the most obvious certainties of yesteryear, like moral and political ideologies, the financial system, religion, science, art, nature, even our globe seem to be under debate and subject to a non-stop tornado of topical and often negative reports in the media. Are there still world leaders, economists, scientists, artists, priests or journalists that we believe?

It doesn’t make sense to try to keep up with the speed of the overwhelming quantities of ‘daily news’. News is temporary and news-value never lasts long. New news rapidly turns to old news. That is why I try to pick footage that possesses a timeless quality, telling us something about this world in which we live. In THE NEWS I use the melody and rhythm of speech samples as the leitmotif for the opera. As a composer I enjoy the beauty of authentic speech. I translate speech into musical notation. By zooming in on speech from everyday life, I try to zoom in on people’s thoughts and feelings, in search for meaning. The meaning of words is essential, and by turning speech into music, I am able to express ‘the indescribable’, since music has the power to deepen the essence of language and image in an abstract way.

The NEWS libretto has not been ‘written’, but it just comes into being, by selecting ready made clips from the endless stream of ‘found footage’ from the media. THE NEWS is a never ending opera, a work in progress. Every edition is different, and can last anything between from 15 minutes to an evening length production. THE NEWS is also suitable as installation in a museum.” … JacobTV

EDITIONS: In 2011 the first instrumental edition was performed by small big band, the Clazz Ensemble, touring in the Netherlands. That same your, Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble (PCME) in Rome performed a chamber version at the Maxxi Museum in Rome, which caused a little scandal when they museum censored a Berlusconi aria.

In 2012, the first American concert edition took place as part of the Off the Wall Series of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and in Chicago, both by Fulcrumpoint New Music Project, starring Josefien Stoppelenburg & Loire and conducted by Stephen Burns. Followed that same year by the first European Edition, again by PCME, this time featuring Nora Fischer and Loire as the anchors, conducted by Tonino Battista at the Petrassi hall in the Auditorium of Rome, Italy.

In the Fall of 2013, The Netherlands Wind Ensemble (NBE) produced the Peace Edition in the Netherlands, supported by the ‘Vrede van Utrecht’.

In 2014 the Opera Edition was produced by NRO, Nationale Reisopera, directed by Xander Straat, followed by a Hamburg Edition, commissioned by NDR and performed by students of HMT Rostock, conducted by Benjamin Köhte. All editions were supervised by composer JacobTV.

In 2015 the New York Edition will be performed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and Thalia Theater Chicago, by Fulcrumpoint New Music Project, starring NoraFischer & Loire and conducted by Stephen Burns. For 2015-2016 a west coast opera production is in preparation, produced by Long Beach Opera.


A discussion in anticipation of JacobTV’s THE NEWS, at the Metropolitan Museum Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, April 14 at 6:30pm: “Are We Consuming the News—or Is It Consuming Us?”

This lively discussion about the changing media landscape—spanning social media, apps, and changes in traditional journalism—included the award-winning broadcast journalist Ann Curry (@anncurry); Mark S. Luckie (@marksluckie), Manager of Journalism and News at Twitter; Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (@sharmeenochinoy), Oscar-winning documentarian of Saving Face; and Sree Sreenivasan (@Sree), Chief Digital Officer of the Met, who spent twenty-one years as a professor of journalism at Columbia University.

Presented courtesy of Met Museum Presents, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Following the NYC production, THE NEWS was presented at the Thalia Theater, Chicago, on April 21.


Philip Roth: ‘We live in an age’, Philip Roth once wrote, ‘in which the imagination of the novelist lies helpless before what will appear in the morning newspaper: The actuality is continually outdoing our talents, and the culture tosses up figures daily that are the envy of any novelist.’ Roth observed that ‘the reality of celebrity culture stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own imagination.” (Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges, Nation Books)

Bob Dylan: ‘Television and the media have killed poetry. These days the mass media have preempted the precious paths of communication that once belonged to poets and their readers. We see things on television now, more horrifying, sad or hilarious than we are likely to see in real life. The news shows people things that they couldn’t even dream about. So what can a writer do when every idea is already exposed in the media before he can even grasp it and develop it?” (The Ballad of Bob Dylan by Daniel Mark Epstein, Harper)


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