Libretto and film script by Michel van der Aa, based on Texts by Ingrid Jonker in a translation by Antije Krog and André P. Brink (E)
A profoundly humane story and a technological innovation: Michel van der Aa’s Blank Out combines emotion and high tech. In this stage work, interactive 3D film and live electronics accompany the soloistic tour de force for a soprano. Her male counterpart answers on the 3D screen. Childhood memories, urban solitude, and traumatic life experiences stand in the focus of this work, which is based on the life and work of the South-African authoress Ingrid Jonker, who suffered a tragic death. Blank Out creates a sonic landscape in which music and noises are generated from the movements of the 3D camera – guided by the singer alone, without orchestra and conductor. The camera reacts to her emotional expedition, allowing fascinating worlds to arise out of a miniature model.
"Van der Aa is nearing his masterpiece step-by-step […] the libretto based on work by the South African poetess Ingrid Jonker which, in fluctuating between hermeticism and plain language, proves to be an ideal foundation for Van der Aa’s own musical mix of sleep and wakefulness, floating lyricism and concrete angularity. Van der Aa’s music is frequently not only unusually beautiful, it also succeeds in presenting a highly individual blend of a cappella choral music, soundtrack, lyrical vocal lines and thumping techno as a natural amalgam. But eclectic? Van der Aa’s versatility is our real musical world." (Mischa Spel, NRC, 22 Mar 2016)
"Though enigmatic and at times mystifying, the whole piece becomes a wonderfully fluent and effective piece of music theatre." (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 22 Mar 2016)
" Van der Aa is going from strength to strength and is refining his theatrical palette on the firm foundation of his musical idiom. Opera Forward! (Frederike Berntsen, Trouw, 22 Mar 2016)
"High-tech opera blends pleasure with primeval fear […] Perhaps, as so often, the composer-producer-librettist has drawn from the unfathomable source of a multi-interpretable dream of primal fears perceived consciously or otherwise. In any case the result is highly enjoyable, magical music and images without our fully understanding what exactly it’s all about […] In Blank Out Van der Aa has explored the boundaries of what is technically possible." (Erik Voermans, Het Parool, 28 Mar 2016)
"Blank Out is so cleverly constructed that halfway through you forget you’re watching a 3-D opera. Film, music, acting: everything blends seamlessly together. Pure magic: a soprano sings a duet with herself and with a baritone who is not even actually on stage. The former recalls the drowning of her seven-year-old son, whilst the latter remembers how his mother drowned in an attempt to save his life. During the performance the two realities continually enter into a dialogue with each other and give the opera depth. […] What you see and what you hear have enormous poetic and suggestive power […] the intriguing Van der Aa sound: a kaleidoscopic assortment of occasionally Gregorian-esque vocal music, pop music and sounds such as the knocking of stones and grinding gravel. Van der Aa has written a wonderful, colourful score sublimely performed." (Oswin Schneeweisz, Theaterkrant, 21 Mar 2016)