Scène uit Upload
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Upload named Best Digital Opera

28 November 2022

Michel van der Aa’s Upload, which originated at Dutch National Opera’s Opera Forward Festival, has been awarded as Best Digital Opera at the International Opera Awards ceremony in Madrid. Founded in 2012, the International Opera Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in opera around the world. Judging of the International Opera Awards is carried out by a jury of industry professionals headed by Opera editor John Allison.

When, due to Covid, the world premiere of Upload could not take during Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival 2021, the idea of creating a film version was born. Apart from the two singers Roderick Williams (Father) and Julia Bullock (Daughter), the film version also features actors Katja Herbers (Psychiatrist), Ashley Zukerman (CEO), Esther Mugambi (Scientist) and Claron McFadden (Childhood friend). Dutch National Opera was able to present the live version of Upload in October 2021, with Roderick Williams and Julia Bullock, directed by Van der Aa and with Ensemble MusikFabrik conducted by Otto Tausk.

In Upload, Michel van der Aa questions what if our minds could live forever—if advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience offered us a way to transfer our memories and experiences into a sustainable digital consciousness? Against the backdrop of present-day and near-future technologies, Van der Aa’s opera explores age-old philosophical questions: what are the limits of human memory, and what happens when we are unable to forget? Where do our identities really reside—in our minds, our bodies, our relationships? And how far do the raw data of our lives determine our fate?

The next Opera Forward Festival by Dutch National Opera will take place 3 - 12 March 2023, presenting amongst other projects a world premiere of Alexander Raskatov’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the European premiere of Tyshawn Sorey’s Perle Noire: meditations for Joséphine with Julia Bullock and directed by Peter Sellars, and a world premiere of the musical collage Ändere die Welt!, which is created under the umbrella of [Collective Works].

Watch Michel van der Aa’s Upload via:

You can rewatch the full award ceremony of the International Opera Awards 2022 via OperaVision. OperaVision is a streaming platform, supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, where various opera houses can share (live) performances with a large audience.