What connects the disappearances of a software engineer and a glamorous young socialite, with a neurotic film-maker of dubious credentials and a gullible patroness of the arts? What is the unfolding crime and who is the criminal? Are their shared dreams of a walled garden between life and death – a place where guilt and grief cannot enter – just dreams, or might such a garden be real? And if so, what is the true price of entry?
Dealing in bright hoax and dark truth, in patronage and manipulation, in the virtual and the bodily, in the isolation of the broadband age, in the primal impulse to cheat mortality at any cost, Sunken garden is an occult-mystery film-opera by Dutch composer and film and stage director Michel van der Aa, and British novelist David Mitchell.
A truly international endeavour, Sunken Garden was a five-way co-production between English National Opera, Toronto Luminato Festival, Opera de Lyon, Holland Festival and London’s Barbican Centre.
Sunken garden is Van der Aa’s fourth work for music theatre. Like its predecessors it employs a distinctive combination of live action and video projections to tell its story, and for the first time includes 3D film.
Sunken garden was given its world premiere by English National Opera on 12 April 2013 at the Barbican Theatre. It was sung by Roderick Williams (baritone), Katherine Manley (soprano), Claron McFadden (soprano) and Jonathan McGovern (baritone). The performance was conducted by André de Ridder.
After these seven performances in London, the opera toured through 2013, 2014 and 2015, with performances at the Holland Festival (June 2013), Opera de Lyon (March 2015), Essen (2017), Amsterdam (2017), and Dallas (2018).
Team & Cast
Toby – Roderick Williams
Zenna – Katherine Manley
Iris Marinus – Claron McFadden
Amber – Kate Miller-Heidke
Simon Vines – Jonathan McGovern
Actors (film) – Harriet Dobby, Alwyne Taylor, Stephen Henry, Caroline Jay, Joanna Bond, Yiftach Mizrahi
Libretto – David Mitchell
Film and stage director – Michel van der Aa
Set & lighting design – Theun Mosk
Stylist – Astrid Schulz
Technical producer – Frank van der Weij
Conductor – André de Ridder
ENO Orchestra (London)
Amsterdam Sinfonietta (Amsterdam)