The Book of Water

Music-theatre Michel van der Aa

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Solo musicians from Amsterdam Sinfonietta perform the Dutch première of Van der Aa’s interactive music theatre work for string quartet, actor and film.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta has had a close relationship with celebrated composer Michel van der Aa for more than a decade. After the multimedia opera Sunken Garden and the Grawemeyer-winning Up-close, a quartet from the orchestra now plays the Dutch premiere of The Book of Water.

In The Book of Water, based on Max Frisch’s novella Man in the Holocene, the rain falls continuously. The protagonist Geiser becomes increasingly isolated from the outside world as a result of the incessant rain and floods. Not only do his surroundings crumble away as a result of the torrential rain that ravages the landscape; Geiser’s memory also erodes. In Van der Aa’s new music theatre production for actor, string quartet and film, the characters in the video projections react to the physically present actor and musicians and vice versa, resulting in an interactive experience involving the mise en scène on the stage.

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“Typically elegant and thoughtful music theatre work…the integration of the live and the recorded is immaculate, the cinematography coolly elegant

The Guardian


  • Michel van der Aa The Book of Water (Dutch Première)


  • Amsterdam Sinfonietta Kamermuziek
  • Jacobien Rozemond violin
  • Diet Tilanus violin
  • Lilli Maijala viola
  • Örs Köszeghy cello
  • Samuel West stage actor
  • Timothy West film actor
  • Madelon Kooijman dramaturgy
  • Michel van der Aa libretto

Commissioned by the Venice Biennale, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, November Music, Philharmonie Cologne, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Tongyeong Festival.

“The climax is a complex counterpoint of live and film, electronics and music”



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