Michel van der Aa / Works / 

From Dust

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Explore the boundaries of reality and identity in From Dust, a cutting-edge virtual reality opera installation that is tailor-made by you and for you using AI. Composed and directed by Michel van der Aa, and performed by the mesmerising vocal ensemble Sjaella.

You walk into a dark space. Soon you see a cloud of tiny particles before you, swarming in the air like a flock of starlings. When you dip your hand into the cloud, you feel a tingling sensation and the particles slowly transform into the shape of a woman. She steps towards you and raises her hand, inviting you to make contact. As you touch, a second version of her appears and splits away from the original. The eyes of these two people meet yours, and they begin to sing.

Are you a spectator or a participant in this world?

During this 20-minute journey, each audience-of-one will take part in a personalized story. Through interacting with their surroundings, the audience will meet the protagonist and her five alter egos, performed by the six members of vocal ensemble Sjaella. The audiences themselves are the ones who create new worlds by walking through and touching the installation, bringing the various alter egos to life.

This multi-sensory experience will be tailored for each audience member with generative AI. As a co-creator, you are the counterpart of the main character. You do not just passively watch but actively shape your own story. (All personal data and images are destroyed on completion of the experience.)

Van der Aa has made a career of integrating music and theatre with cutting-edge video and sound technology. His VR installation Eight garnered a headline in the New York Times, “A Breakthrough for Virtual Reality in Classical Music”.  From Dust builds on these groundbreaking achievements, and will tell its story through music, live interaction, volumetric video and immersive visuals.

From Dust transcends the boundaries of traditional opera and takes you to the forefront of immersive storytelling and personalised art.


Virtual Reality Opera

Vocal Ensemble
2 soprano
2 mezzo-soprano
2 alto

Soundtrack (360 degrees surround)




First Performance

Premiere and international tour will be announced early 2024.

Commissioned by

De Doelen, with support of Het Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, Nederlands Filmfonds (Immerse\Interact), and doubleA


Boosey & Hawkes


Upcoming performance

2 December 2024

From Dust (world premiere)

Virtual Reality opera installation. Sjaella.
VR-Days / Immersive Tech Week

De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands

All performances of From Dust