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Cal Performances

Michel van der Aa’s “Blank Out”

April 28–29, 2023
Zellerbach Hall

Michel van der Aa

In a performance the Guardian called “an astonishing tour de force,” Swedish soprano Miah Persson enthralls at the center of Blank Out, Michel van der Aa’s chamber opera about tragedy, memory, and loss. Persson is the sole performer onstage, but throughout the work, she interacts with a video of her character’s grown son (baritone Roderick Williams), sings with a recording of the Netherlands Chamber Choir and with layered recordings of her own voice, and films herself as she navigates a miniature set of a country house, the imagery projected in real time to create the 3D backdrop that she inhabits onstage. In van der Aa’s singular creation, what is real and now melds with what is remembered and what is felt as Persson and Williams reveal a shared trauma, inspired by the life and work of South African poet Ingrid Jonker.