Michel van der Aa


November 2016

US premieres of 'Blank Out' and 'Sunken Garden' to feature in 2017–18 season

Sunken Garden - bloodpondSunken Garden

The 2017–18 season will see the US premieres of Michel van der Aa’s two most recent operas. First, in September 2017 the Park Avenue Armory in New York will stage Blank Out in five performances with the soprano Miah Persson. This follows performances in four other countries this year – China, Finland, Germany and Switzerland.

A chamber opera that combines live action with interactive 3D film and electronic music, Blank Out centres on a dialogue between a man and his mother, and the reconstruction of a traumatic event that took place between them. Its libretto is based upon the work and life of South African poet Ingrid Jonker, who took her own life by drowning, and is a deeply human consideration of memory and the way in which people reconstruct their pasts.

The performances will run at the Park Avenue Armory from 21 to 25 September 2017. Tickets start at $40 and may be purchased from: armoryonpark.org

Then, in March 2018, the Dallas Opera will present the US premiere of Sunken Garden.This will be the second presentation of the revised version of the piece, which was itself premiered at Opéra de Lyon in 2015.

An occult-mystery film-opera, Sunken Garden is a collaboration between Van der Aa and the acclaimed English novelist David Mitchell. Dealing in bright hoax and dark truth, in patronage and manipulation, in the virtual and the bodily, in the isolation of the broadband age, and in the primal impulse to cheat mortality at any cost, it is Van der Aa’s fourth work of music theatre, and his first to make use of 3D film. The Dallas Opera run follows successful performances at London’s ENO, Amsterdam Holland Festival and Opéra de Lyon, France.

Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny became determined to bring the opera to the USA after seeing one of the Lyon performances, and has described how he found himself “captivated by Michel van der Aa’s extraordinary musical and visual vocabulary … I was certain we were witnessing a work of rare originality and multi-disciplinary innovation.” 

The Dallas Opera will give four performances of ‘Sunken Garden’, between 9 and 17 March 2018, with a cast of Roderick Williams, Katherine Manley and Miah Persson. The Dallas Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Nicole Paiement.

- read the Dallas Opera press release


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 October 2019
    Eight (Chinese premiere)
    Virtual Reality installation. Kate Miller-Heidke, Nederlands Kamerkoor.
    Beijing Music Festival, Beijing, China
  • 05 October 2019
    Hysteresis (Italian premiere)
    ORT (orchestra regionale della Toscana) conducted by Peter Rundel
    Michele Marelli, clarinet
    Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
  • 25 October 2019
    Hysteresis (Chinese premiere)
    Mahler Chamber Orchestra
    Beijing Music Festival, Beijing, China



  • yesterday concluded the ‘opera & new technology’ workshop I was asked to moderate at @festivalaix I had a wonderful time with this ultra-talented group of composers, directors, and designers. Very inspiring!
@academie_festival_aix yesterday concluded the ‘opera & new technology’ workshop I was asked to moderate at @festivalaix I had a wonderful time with this ultra-talented group of composers, directors, and designers. Very inspiring! - @academie_festival_aix

recent video

Eight - teaser

eightvirtual reality installation ft. Kate Miller-Heidke
1:22 min.

recent audio


Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel & Kyver
Latest update 22 July 2019