16 July - 27 August


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Online

Running time

85 minutes




What if eternal life were possible by the simple procedure of uploading your mind to the cloud? What would that mean for your humanity, your identity and your relationships with others? In the film version of his newest opera Upload, which will have its Dutch premiere online via Medici TV on 16 July, Michel van der Aa deals with these questions.

The opera film will be available from 16 July until 27 August and can only be viewed in the Netherlands. Furthermore the theatre version of Upload will also be performed at Dutch National Opera next October. Earlier, as a part of the Opera Forward Festival, DNO showed the making process of the opera. 

Eternal life

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 with our own. These ‘whole brain emulations’ will be able to carry on indefinitely after our deaths: a way of virtual resurrection. But where do our identities really reside? In our minds, our bodies, or our relationships? And how far 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.


Father en daughter

Upload tells the story of a father, who suffers a severe trauma, and a daughter. It features two timelines: the present (shortly after the upload of the father) and the recent past in which the upload process takes place. In these flashbacks, we see the technology used for the uploading: motion capture and foley recordings. During this process the physical body dies. The father is treated by a psychiatrist and two technicians in a Swiss laboratory. Conversations with family and friends with all kinds of memories emphasize the failing of memory and implicitly the inaccuracy of the upload process. In between we see moments from the present: the daughter wasn’t aware of her father’s ardent wish to be uploaded in order to reduce his trauma. This process fails; the father puts his fate in his daughter’s hands. She has to decide whether or not she will delete him, a form of digital euthanasia.

Watch the trailer


Information and credits


Composition, direction and libretto  Michel van der Aa
Musical direction  Otto Tausk
Scenography and lighting  Theun Mosk
Costume design  Elske van Buuren
Dramaturgy  Madelon Kooijman, Niels Nuijten

Director of Photography Joost Rietdijk nsc
Music recording producer Guido Tichelman
Motion capture and real-time graphics  Darien Brito
Sound design  Tom Gelissen
Play-out operator  Simon Hendry
VFX Supervisor & Fractal Artist  Julius Horsthuis

Father Roderick Williams
Daughter Julia Bullock

Film cast
Katja Herbers
Ashley Zukerman
Esther Mugambi
Samuel West
Claron McFadden
David Eeles
Tessa Stephenson

Orchestra Ensemble MusikFabrik

Co-production with Oper Köln (Keulen), Bregenzer Festspiele, Park Avenue Armory (New York), Ensemble Musikfabrik and Stichting DoubleA

Commissioned by Dutch National Opera, Oper Köln (Keulen), Bregenzer Festspiele, Park Avenue Armory (New York), Ensemble Musikfabrik and Stichting DoubleA

Michel van der Aa
Michel van der Aa
compositie, regie en libretto
read more

Click on the link below to read more about Upload and composer Michel van der Aa in the (Dutch) article In zijn opera ‘Upload’ zoekt Michel van der Aa de menselijke maat from NRC.

Photo: Marco Borggreve
Photo: Marco Borggreve
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Order tickets


From Monday 12 July you can order your tickets for the opera film Upload via the button below.  

Please note! The opera is only available in the Netherlands. 

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