Michel van der Aa

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October 2017

Rave reviews for US premiere of Blank Out

Blank Out NYCMiah Persson

Michel van der Aa’s 3D chamber opera Blank Out has completed a highly successful US premiere run in New York. All five performances at the Park Avenue Armory in September were sold out, and the work received rave reviews from the press.

James R. Oestreich of The New York Times called Van der Aa not only “a master of allusion” but also “a full-out virtuoso” of mixed media, while Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that “rarely have modern techniques and ancient musical virtues coexisted more naturally”. Heidi Waleson in The Wall Street Journal praised the opera’s “seamless integration of technology,” calling it “emotionally intense” and “disturbing and unforgettable.” In The Huffington Post, Marlynn Wei wrote that “Van der Aa probes the depths of traumtic loss and pushes chamber opera to new realms.” A qualified psychiatrist as well as an arts critic, Wei added that “Van der Aa has masterfully captured the complex elements of memory, loss and identity … The resulting visual is both haunting and stunning.”

Commissioned by Dutch National Opera, Lucerne Festival, and Opera Rome, Blank Out is based upon the life and work of Ingrid Jonker. Sometimes described as the “South African Sylvia Plath,” Jonker was a brilliant poet who wrote against the apartheid regime, but whose traumatic and troubled life led to her suicide at 31 in the sea off Cape Town.
Building on the technological innovation of Sunken Garden, ‘Blank Out’ uses the intersection of live action and 3D video to explore the nature of memory and the effects of trauma. The Swedish soprano Miah Persson appears on stage as a lone woman dealing with a disturbing event in her past, and is accompanied on film by the baritone Roderick Williams – both “magnificent singers and magnetic presences,” according to Steve Smith in The Log Journal. The electronic soundtrack of vocal sounds is performed by the Nederlands Kamerkoor. 

about

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 March 2019
    Blank Out (Greek premiere)
    Katherine Manley, soprano
    Roderick Williams (film), Nederlands Kamerkoor (film)
    Megaron, Athens, Greece
  • 31 March 2019
    Transit
    Louis Goldstein, piano
    3pm, NYU Steinhardt Music and Performing Arts Professions, New York, U.S.A.
  • 31 March 2019
    Blank Out
    Katherine Manley, soprano
    Roderick Williams (film), Nederlands Kamerkoor (film)
    Megaron, Athens, Greece

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  • 🎈Done!! 🎈
‘Akin’, my new double concerto for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta. Commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Kölner Philharmonie.

9 May 2019 - Kölner Philharmonie
10 May 2019 - Concertgebouw Amsterdam
7 & 8 June 2019 - Vancouver
21 March 2020 - Ottawa 🎈Done!! 🎈 ‘Akin’, my new double concerto for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta. Commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Kölner Philharmonie. 9 May 2019 - Kölner Philharmonie 10 May 2019 - Concertgebouw Amsterdam 7 & 8 June 2019 - Vancouver 21 March 2020 - Ottawa

recent video

Eight - teaser

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

recent audio

colophon

Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel & Kyver
Latest update 23 March 2019