November 2012

Sunken Garden –3D film opera

Sunken Garden posterSunken Garden

We are pleased to announce details of Michel van der Aa’s new opera, Sunken Garden.

A truly international endeavour, Sunken Garden will be a five-way co-production between English National Opera, Toronto Luminato Festival, Opera de Lyon, Holland Festival and London’s Barbican Centre.

The opera is the first collaboration between the composer and stage and film director Van der Aa, and the celebrated English novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas).

After One (2002), The Book of Disquiet (2008) and the acclaimed opera After Life (2005–2006), Sunken Garden is Van der Aa’s fourth work for music theatre. Like its predecessors it employs a distinctive combination of live action and video projections to tell its story, and for the first time includes 3D film.

Mitchell’s libretto tells an “occult mystery” story involving a software engineer, a glamorous young socialite, a neurotic film-maker and a gullible patroness of the arts. Each shares a dream of a “walled garden” between life and death in which there is no guilt or grief. Might this place be real? And what is the cost of cheating mortality?

Sunken Garden will be given its world premiere by English National Opera on 12 April 2013 at the Barbican Theatre. It will be sung by Roderick Williams (baritone), Katherine Manley (soprano), Claron McFadden (soprano), Kate Miller-Heidke (mezzo soprano) and Jonathan McGovern (baritone). The performances in the UK and the Netherlands will be conducted by André de Ridder.

After seven performances in London, the opera will tour through 2013, 2014 and 2015, with performances at the Holland Festival (3-9 June 2013), Toronto Luminato Festival (June 2014) and Opera de Lyon (February 2015).


Michel van der Aa (Netherlands, 1970) is a truly multidisciplinary figure in contemporary music. A unique voice, he combines composition with film and stage direction, and script writing. Classical instruments, voices, electronic sound, actors, theatre and video are all seamless extensions of his musical vocabulary.

upcoming performances

  • 30 April 2015
    Here [to be found]
    Conservatory orchestra
    Cond. Brian Current
    Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 08 May 2015
    Transit (Australian premiere)
    Zubin Kanga, piano
    Metropolis Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre, 6pm, Melbourne, Australia
  • 09 May 2015
    Zubin Kanga, piano
    Sydney Conservatorium of Music, 7:30pm, Sydney, Australia

recent tweets

  • Started offline editing #thebookofsand ! @kmillerheidke @hollandfestival #HF15 25 April 2015
  • The 80s Game of Thrones intro theme makeover is quite an improvement over the original ;-) 25 April 2015
  • "Het spiegelpaleis van wantrouwen dat de @RaadvoorCultuur en Melle Daamen willen, remt de kunsten.” 23 April 2015
  • 1/3 My music is featured today at the Zagreb Music Biennale. The Radio and Television Orchestra performs 'Spaces of Blank' with mezzo-sopr. 23 April 2015
  • 2/3 …Martina Gojčeta Silić. Martin Draušnik performs 'Memo', Daan Vandewalle performs 'Transit' and the Croatian String Quartet with… 23 April 2015
  • 3/3 …Irena Yebuah Tiran perform my Duffy song cycle. Full details here: 23 April 2015
  • Here are Christianne & Rick Stotijn premiering that piece on the Amsterdam canal! #AVRO #Prinsengrachtconcert 21 April 2015
  • Tonight (21 April): "And how are we today?" San Diego New Music. 7:30pm Athenaeum Library in La Jolla , San Diego 21 April 2015

recent video

Making of Sunken Garden

Making of Sunken GardenDocumentary by Lucas van Woerkum for NTR Podium.
30:00 min. | English subtitles

recent audio

The Book of Disquiet - Scene 3 & 4

Scene 3 & 4
Klaus Maria Brandauer, musikFabrik, cond. Martyn Brabbins
11:01 min.

recent works

recent publications


Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel
Latest update 23 April 2015