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

  • 04 September 2015
    Hysteresis (Finnish premiere)
    Lapland Chamber Orchestra, cond. John Storgards
    Kari Kriikku, clarinet
    Korundi, Rovaniemi, Finland
  • 05 September 2015
    Lapland Chamber Orchestra, cond. John Storgards
    Kari Kriikku, clarinet
    Korundi, Rovaniemi, Finland
  • 19 September 2015
    Hysteresis (Dutch premiere)
    Amsterdam Sinfonietta / Candida Thompson
    Kari Kriikku, clarinet
    ZaterdagMatinee, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands

recent tweets

  • Ding trrrrrrrrrrr Ding 29 August 2015
  • actaully, he might be drilling the spots of a Hirst painting directly into his wall 28 August 2015
  • Weed removal contraptions outside & the neighbour seems to be drilling a 150x150 hole raster in his wall. Composing is a challenge today &%# 28 August 2015
  • FELI !! @PodiumSplendor met het winnen van de Amsterdamprijs voor de Kunst 2015! 27 August 2015
  • @peakperfs 2015/16. US premiere of “The Book of Disquiet”. With @exitthelemming @AlanPierson 21-24 Jan 2016 #Pessoa 25 August 2015
  • 1972 - this is how I was dressed. So mum, all those weird pieces I've been making, it's really your fault 25 August 2015

recent video

The Book of Sand - teaser

Interactive song cycle
ft. Kate Miller-Heidke | Text J.L. Borges
1:03 min. teaser

recent audio

Miles Away

Janine Jansen, violin | Christianne Stotijn, mezzo
Jendrik Springer, piano | Rick Stotijn, double bass

recent works

recent publications


Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel
Latest update 07 August 2015