Dutch National Opera presents

Upload Michel van der Aa (1970)

Upload will be streamed on 20 March at 8PM, as part of OFF21 and 'making of'. The opera itself will be streamed at the end of April/start of May.


Duration 1:20

By Michel van der Aa

Language Engels

Surtitles Nederlands

Eternal life. It’s possible. As an upload, a digital version of ourselves. It might sound like science fiction. But developments in this area are racing ahead at warp speed. Upload investigates what this means for our ‘humanness’, our identity, and our relationship with others.


In not too long it will be possible to transfer all our memories, thoughts and experiences to an artificial brain. That way we will continue to exist forever and remain present in the lives of our loved ones.

In the opera Upload, a man undergoes this very process. He hopes that creating a digital version of himself will make him happier. In the last stage he abandons his physical body and returns home to his daughter as an upload.  She does her best to understand him. Why did he make this choice? Is he still the same person? And how does life for them go on from here?


    Fri 31 Jan New York Times over Blank Out, 2017

    'Van der Aa proves a master of allusion […] Mr. van der Aa is also a master — a full-out virtuoso — of mixed media.'

    Mon 10 Feb Limelight Magazine over Julia Bullock in Girls of the Golden West

    “It would be hard to imagine a better Dame Shirley than Julia Bullock. Her smoothly energised soprano caresses Adams’ lyrical lines while her immaculate diction ensures not a syllable of Clappe’s memorable words are lost.”

    Thu 20 Feb de Volkskrant - Roderick Williams in After Life

    The vocal centerpoint of the performance is baritone Roderick Williams, who develops himself to be the most complex character, when he finds a common love in the memories of someone who has recently passed away. [...]


Visual spectacle, modern techniques

As with earlier works by Michel van der Aa, Upload promises to be a musical and visual tour de force, where music theatre and modern digital technology are interwoven. A world premiere that allows the audience to see and hear contemporary opera at its most powerful. Dutch National Opera previously presented Van der Aa’s After Life and Blank Out, which seamlessly combine theatre and (3-D)film. In 2019, Van der Aa created the first virtual reality opera, Eight. His works are performed worldwide and after its Amsterdam premiere, Upload will likewise crisscross the world.

The German ensemble MusikFabrik, led by Otto Tausk, brings the new composition to life together with baritone Roderick Williams and the sensational soprano Julia Bullock, who recently sang at Dutch National Opera in Girls of the Golden West.


Co-production with
Oper Köln (Cologne),
Bregenzer Festspiele,
Park Avenue Armory
(New York), Ensemble
MusikFabrik and
DoubleA Foundation
of Dutch National Opera,
Oper Köln (Cologne),
Bregenzer Festspiele,
Park Avenue Armory
(New York), Ensemble
MusikFabrik and
DoubleA Foundation

Michel van der Aa


The Dutch composer MICHEL VAN DER AA (composer, concept, director) studied at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and took lessons in composition from Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen.

Otto Tausk


The Dutch conductor OTTO TAUSK (musical direction) was from 2007 to 2012 chief conductor of Holland Symfonia.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Otto Tausk
Libretto, Filmscript en Regie
Michel van der Aa
Sets and lighting designer
Theun Mosk
Madelon Kooijman
Niels Nuijten
Ensemble MusikFabrik
Roderick Williams
Julia Bullock


Ensemble MusikFabrik was founded in Cologne in 1990. The ensemble is dedicated to contemporary music and is much sought after worldwide. In their projects they often look for interdisciplinary forms in which means such as electronic music, dance, theatre and film can be combined with chamber music. The collective has collaborated with major names like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Heiner Goebbels and Louis Andriessen. In 2021, Ensemble MusikFabrik makes its Dutch National Opera debut under the baton of Otto Tausk fot the world premiere of Upload.



Experts share their thoughts on current productions Dutch National Opera & Ballet offers an introductory talk 45 minutes before each performance. An expert will share background information, context and interesting details that can give your theatre visit more depth. The talks are in Dutch and are free to all the ticket holders. You can also find an abridged version of the introduction on our website as a podcast.

Time: 45 minutes before the performance
Location: Odeonzaal; ground floor entrance

This production is part of the Opera Forward Festival and is made possible by:

Founding partners Opera Forward Festival:


Production partner:

Upload is nominated for the Fedora Opera Prize with the support of Generali and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.