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4 November 2022

Dutch and Belgian premieres of ‘The Book of Water’

Michel van der Aa’s latest music theatre work The Book of Water will have its Dutch and Belgian premieres on 11 and 12 November. The performance stars actor Samuel West and a string quartet from Amsterdam Sinfonietta, with actor Timothy West and soprano Mary Bevan on film.

‘The Book of Water’ had its acclaimed world premiere last September at the Venice Biennale. Peter Krausse, writing in Opernwelt, described the piece as ‘Ein Genialisches Gesamtkunstwerk’, and The Guardian’s Andrew Clements wrote ‘Typically elegant and thoughtful music theatre work…the integration of the live and the recorded is immaculate, the cinematography coolly elegant’.

The ‘Book of Water’ is based on the novella ‘Man in the Holocene’ by Swiss author Max Frisch, adapted by Van der Aa and dramaturg Madelon Kooijman. The plot revolves around Mr Geiser, a widower living alone in a remote village, who fears he is losing his memory. Heavy rains have started landslides and the hills outside his house are starting to erode, as a parallel to his deteriorating memory. The boundary between exterior and interior blurs as Geiser becomes increasingly desperate to find a last moment of clarity, about himself, nature and civilisation.

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Featured works

The Book of Water

Chamber music theatre (2021-2022)

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)

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for solo cello, string ensemble and film (2010)

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.

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Performances

24 February 2023

The Book of Water (Hong Kong premiere)

Samuel West, actor. Esmé quartet. Timothy West, actor (film), Mary Bevan, soprano (film). Hong Kong Arts Festival

Hong Kong City Hall, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
25 February 2023

The Book of Water

Samuel West, actor. Esmé quartet. Timothy West, actor (film), Mary Bevan, soprano (film)
Two performances; afternoon and evening. Hong Kong Arts Festival

Hong Kong City Hall, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
28 April 2023

Blank Out (West Coast premiere)

Miah Persson, soprano, Roderick Williams, baritone (film), Netherlands Chamber Choir (film), Klaas Stok, conductor

Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances, Berkeley, U.S.A.

All performances