Dutch composer Michael van der Aa’s existential opera is guaranteed to get audiences thinking.

What is the one memory that you couldn’t live without… Or, in this case, diewithout? What single moment would you take with you into the beyond, with all else obliterated, as the only memento of your existence?

This is the profound philosophical question Dutch composer Michael Van Der Aa asks of his singers, and his audience in the opera After Life. Without fail, he says, it gets people thinking, and no one answers too hastily.

“One of the nice things about this opera, throughout the piece, as an audience member you keep on thinking, ‘What would I do? What would I have chosen and how would I have my moment immortalised, and which moment do I want to relive over and over?’” he says. “It’s something that everybody can relate to whether you’re 10 years old or 80 years old.”

Inspired by the Japanese arthouse film of the same name, After Lifeis set in a kind of purgatory, in which souls can only move on once they have made this all-important selection. But the composer, who also wrote the libretto and...

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