What was the most decisive moment in your life?
That is the essential question in Michel van der Aa’s opera After Life. Based on the film of the same name by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, the opera introduces us to characters that are about to trade their earthly existence for perpetuity in heaven. They are allowed to relive a key moment in their life one last time in the form of a film, and subsequently take it with them to eternity.
In combining staged action and film, live music and electronics, Michel van der Aa produces a complex structure in a follow-up to his successful one-act chamber opera One. Divergent time planes are reflected in the music and the narrative, while the work still manages to retain its clarity and certitude, drawing on humanist beliefs.
The world premiere of After Life took place in Amsterdam on 2 June 2006 in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. This performance marked the official opening of the 2006 Holland Festival. After Life was revived in Amsterdam, London, Lyon, and Melbourne. After Life was one of the prize winners of “Music Theatre NOW 2008”.
After Life is set at a way station between Heaven and Earth. There, guides have less than a week to help the newly dead sift through their memories for one defining moment to take with them to Heaven. The opera centers on the grudging respect that develops between Mr. Walter, an undistinguished old man, coming to terms with his uneventful life, and Aiden, the young guide assigned to help him. After Life explores our human need to discover meaning in the humdrum details of everyday life. An exploration of the ambiguous nature of human recollection.
Aiden – Roderick Williams
Mr. Walter – Richard Suart
Sarah – Yvette Bonner
Ilana – Margriet van Reisen
Chief – Claron McFadden
Bryna – Helena Rasker
Tessa Marwick, Juul Muller, Flint Louis Hignett, Bert Hornback, Dee Jager, Esther Jager
libretto after Hirokazu Kore-Eda, adapted by Michel van der Aa
musical direction – Otto Tausk
director – Michel van der Aa
scenography – Dries Verhoeven
lighting – Floriaan Ganzevoort
dramaturge – Klaus Bertisch
costumes – Robby Duiveman
video script and direction – Michel van der Aa