MIT's 'Aesthetics'; 'Brighton Beach'; high-tech 'Icarus'; 'Jonestown'; Opera of the sky

'Icarus - A Sky Opera'' waxes well visually but doesn't quite soar vocally. Boston Musica Viva and MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies presented the American premiere of Cambridge composer Paul Earls's opera last week at MIT's Kresge Auditorium.

The state-of-the-art production comes together as a sort of Federico Fellini-directed ''Star Wars Meets Godzilla'' event. Musically and visually it is an exciting, bizarre, and triumphant feast. At 50 minutes, it's just long enough. More could be an assault.

This phantasmagorical work combines computer-synthesized music, hand-painted slides, music-activated laser images, an inflatable, 12-foot-high, hydra-headed Minotaur with the voices of a boy soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, a booming backstage voice of the monster, and a children's choir. Despite the emphasis on technical effects, the story remains true to the myth.

Unfortunately few voices are able to rise above this miasma of musical crashes, gurgles, and groans. The notable exceptions were Timothy Noble as Daedalus and Nelda Nelson as Pasiphae, although a valiant attempt was certainly made by young Joseph Olefirowicz in the title role.

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