Michel van der Aa After Life (UK premiere) Hirokazu Kore-Eda libretto Michel van der Aa director/video-script and direction Robby Duiveman costumes ASKO / Schoenberg Ensemble Otto Tausk musical direction Claron McFadden Chief Helena Rasker Bryna Margriet van Reijsen Ilana Yvette Bonner Sarah Richard Suart Mr Walter Roderick Williams Aiden
Which one memory would you choose to take to eternity? This is the essential question posed by After Life, a multi-media opera by Dutch composer and film-maker Michel van der Aa, based on a film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda.
The opera’s six characters are about to trade their earthly existence for a place in heaven. They are allowed to choose one defining moment of their lives to take to eternity. Van der Aa, as director, integrates his stage characters’ struggles to recall this moment with on-screen documentary recollections – from a white south-African, a Polish Jew and a young boy for whom any strong memory means his dog.
Skillfully combining live stage action with film, music and an electro-acoustic sound-world, After Life uses multiple perspectives to explore our human need to discover meaning in the ordinary details of everyday life.
This Barbican performance features the original cast members from the 2006 world premiere, including Claron McFadden, an American soprano whose versatile voice is sought out by Baroque and jazz performers alike, and the wonderfully communicative British bass Roderick Williams.
Semi-staged Performance part of Present Voices
Van der Aa’s skill at combining film and operatic action is breathtaking, as is the performance of the singers (including soprano Claron McFadden!) and the musicians. Erik Voermans, het Parool, 3 June 2006
The beautifully measured mix of instrumental music and electronics, which resounded through the concert hall, was executed with an unusual degree of perfection. The opera’s strength lies in Van der Aa’s virtuoso meshing of all those different element into a new whole. Roeland Hazendonk, de Telegraaf, 6 June 2006