1-8 Oct 2021


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Auditorium

Running time

85 minutes




Eternal life – digital

To live forever: it’s possible as an upload, a digital version of yourself. It sounds like science fiction, but in the not-all-too-distant future, it will be possible to transfer our memories, thoughts and experiences to an artificial brain. A utopia for some; it means we can exist forever and that our loved ones would never have to miss us. But what are the consequences for our humanity, our identity and for our relationships?

Eternal life – digital

In the opera Upload, a man undergoes the transformation from living being to immortal digital entity. He has a digital version of himself made, hoping this will make him happier. The last step is renouncing his physical body, after which he can live on as an upload. In this manifestation, he comes back home to his daughter. She didn’t know about her father’s decision to have himself uploaded and she tries to come to grips with him. Why did he decide to do it? Is he the same person? And will it be possible for them to carry on like this?


Visual spectacle using state-of-the-art techniques

Like previous works by Michel van der Aa, Upload promises to be a musical and visual tour de force. With its blend of theatre and modern digital technology it will make clear just how powerful present-day opera can be. The German ensemble MusikFabrik, led by Otto Tausk, brings this new composition to life, accompanied by the amazing baritone Roderick Williams and the sensational soprano Julia Bullock, who has previously performed with DNO, including in Girls of the Golden West.


Michel van der Aa

Michel van de Aa is an internationally active artistic and multidisciplinary pioneer. DNO has previously performed his After Life and Blank Out, perfect amalgams of theatre and (3-D) film. In 2019 van der Aa created the first virtual reality opera, Eight.

Performance information

New production

Libretto  Michel van der Aa

Musical direction  Otto Tausk

Stage direction  Michel van der Aa

Set and lighting design  Theun Mosk

Costumes  Elske van Buuren 

Dramaturgy  Madelon Kooijman and Niels Nuijten

Father  Roderick Williams 

His Daughter  Julia Bullock

Orchestra  Ensemble MusikFabrik

Composition commissioned and coproduced by  Dutch National Opera; DoubleA Foudation (Amsterdam); Ensemble MusikFabrik (Cologne); Oper Köln (Cologne); Bregenzer Festspiele; Park Avenue Armory (New York)

Sung in English


Upload eternal life
Making of Upload
This is where you are now

Upload - podcast

In this introductory podcast (Dutch), Jasmijn van Wijnen, junior dramaturg at Dutch National Opera, conversates with one of the production dramaturgs of Upload: Madelon Kooijman. 


By: Jasmijn van Wijnen

in the media
Rave reviews

Of unimaginable crisp beauty

3 October

‘Critic's Pick:’ A masterly weaving of music, film and motion-capture technology

3 October

Van der Aa creates masterpiece

2 October

The strength of Upload is the perfect interplay of its various disciplines. The interaction of the images on the screen and the singers on the stage, the interplay between analogue and digital music, the transition from singing to the delicate sounds of the ensemble are so successful that the individual elements are no longer recognizable as such.

30 July

The Ensemble Musikfabrik, directed by Otto Tausk, creates worlds both furiously dramatic and warmly tender. The live music is a duet with electronic sounds so perfectly prepared that the boundaries are blurred. In particular, the performance of the singers ensures highpoints.

30 July

‘The brain is the last analogue device in a digital world’, says one of the characters in the film opera Upload, which had its successful premiere at the Bregenz Festival. The Dutch composer and multidisciplinary artist Michel van der Aa plays out the idea of ​​self-digitisation with all its consequences. Van der Aa finds poignant moments that are wonderfully delivered by the two vocal soloists. […] We want this work to survive, with a life on many stages.

30 July

As part of the Opera Forward Festival, The Dutch National Opera gave a unique preview of the brand new opera in Upload - behind the scenes where the viewer was able to follow its creation process. Friday 16 July the film version of Upload had its premiere. The theatre production premieres on 1 October.

Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ensemble MusikFabrik was founded in 1990. The ensemble is dedicated to contemporary music and is in high demand worldwide. They often seek out interdisciplinary forms in which media such as electronic music, dance, theatre and film are combined with chamber music. The collective has worked with big names such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Heiner Goebbels and Louis Andriessen. In 2021, Ensemble MusikFabrik will make its debut at the Dutch National Opera with the Dutch premiere of Michel van de Aa's Upload, led by conductor Otto Tausk.

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