Android Opera Scary Beauty, 2018. Photograph by Kenshu Shintsubo


Scary Beauty
4:00 pm–6:00 pm
Friday, 31 December 2020
Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, University City

Sharjah Art Foundation presents the Middle East premiere of Scary Beauty, an android opera featuring a humanoid robot conducting the National Symphony Orchestra (UAE). The highly-anticipated performance takes place on Friday, 31 January 2020 at the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, University City, and is part of the on-going exhibition Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art. Composed by Japanese musician Keiichiro Shibuya, the opera was previously shown in Japan, Australia and Germany.

Exploring the relationship between terror and beauty, and humanity’s fear of being made redundant in the future, Scary Beauty allows audiences to witness music created in real time by human musicians and artificial intelligence. Although Shibuya composed the music, the android, Alter 3, is responsible for deciding and leading tempo, volume and singing expression.

A prototype of the opera was performed in Australia in 2017 with an early version of the android. The work then had its world premiere with an updated android called Alter 2 at ALIFE 2018, which was an international conference on artificial life at the Miraikan, Tokyo. Alter 3 is the latest iteration of the android, further developed by the scientists with contributions from mixi, Inc. and Warner Music Japan Inc. The latest version of the opera, with Alter 3, was successfully performed in Düsseldorf in 2019.

Scary Beauty is part of the second edition of Sharjapan titled Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art, running until Saturday, 15 February 2020. This exhibition is the second in a four-year-long collaboration with curator Yuko Hasegawa, Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and focuses on performances and sound-based installations that bring together new technologies and traditional Japanese practices to explore the interactions of nature, technology and human life.
This event is free to attend and open to the public, however booking is required. To book complimentary tickets, visit

About Keiichiro Shibuya

Composer and musician Keiichiro Shibuya has created musical works for live performances, films and sound installations. He continuously pushes the boundary between human and technology as he creates works ranging from piano solos to electronic music and opera.

Among his upcoming and recent productions are Super Angels (with Kazushi Ohno and Masahiko Shimada), New National Theatre, Tokyo (2020); Heavy Requiem (with Eizen Fujiwara and Justine Emard), Ars Electronica, AI x Music Festival, Linz, Austria (2019); Scary Beauty (with humanoid android and human orchestra), National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Miraikan, Tokyo (2018); and the first vocaloid opera, THE END, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Japan (2012), which has also been presented in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Georgia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Shibuya’s music label, established with Maria in 2002, is a collective of design, video and technology artists that releases electroacoustic works by a number of international artists.

Shibuya holds a bachelor’s degree in music composition from the Tokyo University of the Arts (2002). Born in 1973 in Tokyo, he currently lives and works in Tokyo and Paris.

About National Symphony Orchestra (UAE)

NSO comprises the NSO Symphony Orchestra, the NSO Chamber Orchestra, the NSO Symphonic Pops Orchestra, the NSO Opera & Chorus and the NSO Music Agency. More than 100 musicians of some 20 nationalities, who live in six of the seven emirates, make up the various formations of NSO and are professional musicians and musical educators who have performed regularly for their own national orchestras.

NSO performs numerous major symphonic and operatic works, as well as a more popular classical and music theatre repertoire. Every concert endeavours to feature musical contributions from the UAE, whether a composer, solo singer or musician, such as a pianist or Oud player.

NSO presents concerts throughout the year for the general public and is regularly called upon to perform for private, corporate and government events. NSO also outsources, through its NSO Music Agency, smaller groups such as the NSO Symphonic Brass, the NSO Big Band, the NSO String Quartet, the NSO Jazz Ensemble, the NSO Three Tenors and the NSO Three Sopranos. NSO was the official supplier for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's 'Arts for Health' programme, providing musicians for inspiring live music performances for patients and their families.

Entrepreneur and former Opera Singer Janet Hassouneh founded NSO in 2011 to meet the region’s cultural aspirations. Originally from the USA, where she obtained her master’s in musical performance, she has worked in the music business in the UAE for more than 30 years, performing, teaching and organising music theatre and opera concerts featuring international guest artists from New York and London. Numerous performances were staged for charitable causes, under the auspices of the UAE authorities. NSO UAE was formed to reciprocate the government’s hospitality.

About Yuko Hasegawa

Yuko Hasegawa is Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2016–present) and Professor in Curatorial Studies at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts (2016–present). She is also Artistic Director of the Inujima Art House Project (2011–present). Previously she was Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006–2016) and Chief Curator and Founding Artistic Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (1999–2006).

She has curated major exhibitions at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Paris (2018); 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017); Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2017); Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2016); ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2016); Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (2011); Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2010); Singapore Art Museum (2010) and 29th São Paulo Biennale (2010), among others.

Her extensive publications include her essay ‘Performativity in the Work of Female Japanese Artists in the 1950s–1960s and the 1990s’ in Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, 2010) and Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa: SANAA (Phaidon Press, 2006).

Hasegawa is a member of the Asian Art Council at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008–present) and the International Arts Advisory Council for the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, US (2001–present). She has served on the jury for the MAXXI Bulgari Prize, Rome (2017–2018); Nasher Prize, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, US (2015–2018); Hugo Boss Asia Art Award (2013, 2015, 2017) and 48th Venice Biennale (1999), among others.

She studied law at Kyoto University and received an MA in Art History and Aesthetics from the Tokyo University of the Arts. Born in Hyogo, Japan in 1957, she currently lives and works in Tokyo.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.

Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions are free and open to the public.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture' and has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa