Michel van der Aa


April 2013

World premiere Sunken Garden

Sunken Garden - bloodpondSunken Garden

Michel van der Aa’s latest opera, Sunken Garden, made a splash on its premiere run at London’s Barbican Theatre. As the first opera to use 3D video it was sure to receive a lot of advance publicity. But the performances themselves attracted international media attention, and polarised opinion.

Although some in the British press were critical of the work, writers for other outlets responded favourably. Anne Ozorio of Opera Today described it as ‘A Gesamtkunstwerk for the age of technology’, and Steve Smith of the New York Times called it ‘A provocative combination of live performance and cinema … Unquestionably a bold, rewarding venture’. Writing on his Slipped Disc blog, Norman Lebrecht described it as ‘the first genuine 21st-century opera … not so much an opera as a projection of what opera ought to be’.

From US, German, Dutch and English blogs, to their newspaper counterparts it was certainly the most discussed premiere that ENO have staged for a long time. The seven performances at the Barbican were nearly full, and attracted a young audience, including many who were seeing an opera for the first time.

Sunken Garden now moves to a sold-out run at the Holland Festival this June, and Opera de Lyon in Spring 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

  • 24 October 2019
    Virtual Reality installation. Kate Miller-Heidke, Nederlands Kamerkoor.
    Runs from 10-27 October.
    Beijing Music Festival, Beijing, China
  • 25 October 2019
    Hysteresis (Chinese premiere)
    Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Vicente Alberola
    Jaan Bossier, clarinet
    Beijing Music Festival, Beijing, China
  • 03 November 2019
    For the time being
    Bernadeta Astari, mezzo-soprano. Heleen Hulst, violin. Gerard Bouwhuis, piano. Dario Calderone, double bass
    November Music
    13:30 hrs, Babel, Den Bosch, Netherlands



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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 17 October 2019