Menu button

Newsletter


Dark Light

News

25 April 2021

Michel van der Aa’s new film opera “Upload” on stage and screen

“Upload”, the new film opera by Michel van der Aa exploring how life could become eternal in the digital sphere, receives its stage premiere at the Bregenz Festival on 29 July. A film version will be screened by Medici TV and streamed by Dutch National Opera from 19 July.

The world stage premiere of Michel van der Aa’s new opera Upload is presented by the Bregenz Festival in Austria on 29 July starring singers Julia Bullock and Roderick Williams. Otto Tausk conducts the Cologne-based Ensemble Musikfabrik and the direction of the stage production and immersive film are by the composer. The filmed part features actors Katja Herbers, Ashley Zukerman, Esther Mugambi, Samuel West, and Claron McFadden.
The Bregenz premiere is followed by performances at Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam this October, and at Park Avenue Armory New York and Opera Cologne in future seasons.

Upload was co-commissioned by Dutch National Opera, Park Avenue Armory, Oper Köln, Bregenzer Festspiele, and Ensemble Musikfabrik. Its Netherlands premiere will be on 1 October at Dutch National Opera, and further dates will follow in New York and Cologne in 2022/23.

Upload explores the possibility of attaining eternal life by uploading a digital version of ourselves, and investigates what this means for our ‘humanness’, our identity, and our relationships with others. What if our minds could live forever? Recent advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience mean that we will soon be able to map our memories and experiences, and to use these data to build a digital consciousness identical to our own. These ‘whole brain emulations’ will be able to carry on indefinitely after we die, as a kind of virtual resurrection. But where do our identities really reside? In our minds, our bodies, or our relationships? And to what extent do the data of our lives determine our fate? Upload will explore these ancient philosophical questions against the backdrop of present-day and near-future technologies.

Read more

Featured works

Upload

Film opera (2019-2020)

Eight

Virtual reality installation (2018-2019)

Violin Concerto

for solo violin and orchestra (2014)

Blank Out

chamber opera (2015-2016)

Up-close

for solo cello, string ensemble and film (2010)

Hysteresis

for solo clarinet, ensemble and soundtrack (2013)

Michel van der Aa 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.

Read full biography

Performances

29 July 2021

Upload (world premiere)

Julia Bullock, Roderick Williams
Ensemble MusikFabrik, cond. Otto Tausk

Bregenzer Festspiele, Bregenz, Austria
30 July 2021

Upload

Julia Bullock, Roderick Williams
Ensemble MusikFabrik, cond. Otto Tausk

Bregenzer Festspiele, Bregenz, Austria
1 October 2021

Upload (Dutch premiere)

Julia Bullock, Roderick Williams
Ensemble MusikFabrik, cond. Otto Tausk
Dutch National Opera

Stopera, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All performances