7 - 11 Feb 2024


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Studio Boekman

Running time



€15 (up to 35 yrs) | €20 regular

Landscape Still street

A VR opera as a meditative quest

How does one relate to a world of things that are passing? Are we a part of it? Or are we just looking at it? And what about the body – is it something that we are or that we have? There is an ambivalence here that prompts the question: could this be the origin of all melancholy?

In Songs for a Passerby - a VR opera by Celine Daemen about our tenuous relationship with the transitory nature of reality - you will autonomously walk through a musical dreamscape shown in a VR headset. You are following your own 3D mirror image and on the way you will pass by various scenes: a dying horse, a choir of murmuring people, two playing dogs.

Meditative quest

Songs for a Passerby is a meditative quest that allows you to step outside reality for a moment and look at yourself. As a puppeteer of your own body you will be entering a poetic space where the melancholy question arises: is this me passing by moments, or is it rather the moments passing by me?

Celine Daemen about Songs for a Passerby
“By placing spectators outside themselves and showing them the contours of their own 'self' through capture with live 3D cameras, I aim to create an experience that touches on a familiar sense of melancholy, wherein we are no longer at one with the world, but in some ways are opposite to it. As the poet Reiner Maria Rilke wrote: ‘This is what fate means: to be opposite, and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever’.”

“In Songs for a Passerby I have attempted to create an experience that investigates the connection between the physical and the metaphysical world. You are both a body that is moving through space and a mind that is looking at it. While the unavoidable passing of time makes itself manifest to you, all past moments will remain present, entering into a simultaneous existence. You are both in the world and simultaneously outside it.” 

Songs for a Passerby - Behind the scenes

Songs for a Passerby

Stage direction Celine Daemen
VR art direction Aron Fels
Composition music & sound Asa Horvitz
Libretto Olivier Herter
Sound & mix Wouter Snoei

In Songs for a Passerby you can hear fragments of songs written by Hildegarde von Bingen and echoes of melodies (including the song “O u Poli, Drevo”) sung by the esteemed Ensemble Drevo (tradition) of the village Kryachkivka, Poltava, Ukraine – Slava.

Nadia Amin, Vincent van den Berg, Hans Croiset, Sterre Konijn, Misja Nolet, Carl Refos, Michaela Riener, Eleonora Schrickx, Georgi Sztojanov, Garbo, Micha, Raffie, Rey

Production: Silbersee. In co-production with: Studio Nergens, VIA ZUID and Muziekgebouw Productiehuis.

Developed with the financial support of The Performing Arts Fund NL, the Netherlands Film Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL

“You are both a body that is moving through space and a mind that is looking at it. ... You are both in the world and simultaneously outside it.”
- Celine Daemen

Order tickets

Each visitor is given an individual time slot of about 30 minutes. A new time slot starts every 15 minutes. If you want to come with several people, you can reserve several time slots.

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Songs for a Passerby - dying horse