The chamber opera One represents a new kind of music multimedia drama. Michel van der Aa’s poetic production of technological virtuosity fuses libretto, video, live music and soundtrack with the soprano voice and stage presence of Barbara Hannigan into ‘One’. Projected images and electronic sounds add emphasis to the onstage performance of the protagonist, while the recorded and live voice interact with incredible synchronicity.

One, composed in 2002, was premiered on 12 January 2003 by Barbara Hannigan in the Amsterdam Frascati Theatre. As a result of its successful first tour in the Netherlands, the production has been in great demand abroad and has been performed to critical and audience acclaim in eleven countries, at festivals including the Berliner Festspiele, Paris Festival de L’automne,

One, barbara hallway

Oslo Ultima Festival, Warsaw Autumn, and the Venice Biennale.

In 2004 Van der Aa received the Netherlands’ Matthijs Vermeulen Prize for this work.

One, barbara yellowBarbara Hannigan

Five elderly women relate their elemental and existential stories; in each of them the main protagonist of the opera plays an important role. Gradually the nature of the relationship between her and the older women becomes apparent, while a moving portrait rises of a woman who has completely lost her own identity.

One, sheilaSheila Wiersum

Cast on stage
Barbara Hannigan

Film cast
Barbara Hannigan, Sheila Wiersum, H.L.van Eesteren, Mary Rose Arntzenius, Margaret van Berckel, Frankie van Weli

libretto, stage and video direction – Michel van der Aa
light design – Erik van Raalte
set design – Jelle Baas
camera – Sita Kaulesar Sukul
assistent camera – Gert-Jan Odijk
film production – Dyveke Rood
stage production – Frank van der Weij
sound – Marc Schots, Guido Tichelmans, Clare Gallagher

press quotes

Contemporary king

“Virtuosic musical creation and dramatic presentation… I can imagine van der Aa will dominate European contemporary music in the near future.”
— The Budapest Sun

A Philosophical reflection between Rimbaldism and Buddhism

— Le Monde

Mastery of deviation

“The piece spreads its aura over generations, reflecting its secrets with the clarity of a mirror.”
— Der Tagespiegel

One of the most successful moments of the entire Zagreb Biennial

— New sound Magazine

Really ‘One’

“The libretto, the video, the music by Van der Aa and Hannigan’s beautiful voice were really ‘One’.
— Trouw

A phenomenal achievement

“Hannigan delivered a phenomenal achievement.”
— De Volkskrant

Intense opera by Michel van der Aa

“A wonderful production without fuss or pretense, presenting a really new type of purely musical multimedia drama.”
— De Telegraaf

One is masterly

“One is masterly…a wonderfully poetic piece. As enchanting as a dream”
— Het Parool

Michel van der Aa fascinates in One

“The high quality of the notes in a highly concentrated, sublime sharpness and taut beauty, both mechanical and human.“
NRC Handelsblad


chamber opera for soprano, video and soundtrack


video, 2 channels

soundtrack, 4 channels


Duration 60'
First performance 12 January 2003, Barbara Hannigan, soprano
Commissioned by Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst, Gaudeamus Foundation, Fonds voor de podiumkunsten
Published by Boosey & Hawkes


ARTE Metropolis documentary

Portrait documentary by Viktor Stauder. Produced by ARTE.
8:55 min. | German

Vrije Geluiden interview

Interview by Hans Flupsen.
VPRO Television, 2004.
44:57 min. | Dutch

Voyage musical aux Pays-Bas

Interview by Dominique Fargues.
Produced by French channel Mezzo.
4:55 min. | French/English


Soprano, Barbara Hannigan
8:58 min. excerpts


Last performance:

  • 20 October 2013
    Barbara Hannigan, soprano (video)
    Musica Electronica Nova
    5pm, Centrum Sztuki Wro, Wroclaw, Poland


DQM03 One One (DVD)

Barbara Hannigan, soprano

BUY: DVD | Download
Label: Disquiet