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

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

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.

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


Soprano, Barbara Hannigan


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

One is masterly

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

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

A phenomenal achievement

“Hannigan delivered a phenomenal achievement.”
— De Volkskrant

Really ‘One’

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

One of the most successful moments of the entire Zagreb Biennial

— New sound Magazine

Mastery of deviation

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

A Philosophical reflection between Rimbaldism and Buddhism

— Le Monde

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



Chamber opera for soprano, video and soundtrack

Video, 2 channels
Soundtrack, 4 channels




First performance

12 January 2003
Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Commissioned by

Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst, Gaudeamus Foundation, Fonds voor de podiumkunsten


Boosey & Hawkes


Last performance

21 October 2013

One (installation)

Barbara Hannigan, soprano (video)
Musica Electronica Nova

5pm, Centrum Sztuki Wro, Wroclaw, Poland

All performances of One


22 April 2011

Van der Aa’s video opera ‘One’ released on Disquiet label

‘One’ DVD Michel van der Aa’s video opera One has been released on the composer’s Disquiet label. Following CDs of Spaces of Blank/Mask/Imprint and Here Trilogy, One is Disquiet’s third release. In addition to a DVD release, One is also available for purchase as a standard and hig...

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27 August 2009

One performed in Berlin and Paris

Barbara Hannigan in One The chamber opera One received great public and critical acclaim after its performances on the Berliner Festspiele and Festival d’Automne a Paris. “Mastery of the deviation. With its absence of person psychology the piece spreads its aura over generations, since it r...

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25 August 2009

Matthijs Vermeulen Price for One

Barbara Hannigan in One Michel van der Aa has received the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize 2004 for his chamber opera One. The prestigious Dutch composition prize, which amounts to EUR 7,500, is awarded every year for a significant new musical work. One, composed in 2002 for soprano, video and sound track...

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