Opera Prize 2025

Between Two Lights

Netherlands Chamber Choir

Between Two Lights
With Between Two Lights, the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Muziektheater Transparant present a new music theater piece of Chinese composer Huang Ruo. A ritual in which we look death in the eye. Not knowing what it exactly is. But knowing that it is inevitable. Incredible. Incredibly large.


Let's talk. About death. Not about saying goodbye. But about that moment when you come face to face with death.

With the music-theatrical piece "Between Two Lights," the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Muziektheater Transparant present a new work by Chinese composer Huang Ruo about the transition from one life to another. A ritual of dying.
The work (for choir, percussion and dancer) touches on the recent history of Huang Ruo. When his mother passed away not long ago, Huang Ruo - living in the USA - went back to China for a ceremony of seven weeks. Huang Ruo realised he had become detached from his Chinese past, and was fascinated by the way of looking at dying in China. As a moment of emptiness, but also of passage.

With "Between Two Lights", conducted by the composer himself, Huang Ruo not only wants to bridge the musical worlds of the West and Asia, but also has the explicit desire to give the performance a universal human character. Young Flemish director Aïda Gabriëls and Tido Visser have devised a unique concept, in which the boundaries between the auditorium, foyer, and the extension of the foyer, social media, blur. The main characters in "Between Two Lights" are not the singers; they are ordinary people like you and me. In their staging, "Between Two Lights" is not about saying goodbye, but about that overwhelming moment itself, when you come face to face with death. That step, that emptiness. Do we dare to imagine that? People from various cultures talk about death on camera. Their texts form a counterpoint with the abstract texts of the Heart Sutra (the basis for the libretto of this work) and make the emptiness tangible.

The staging resembles more of an installation than a concert. More like a ritual than a drama. We follow Indonesian dancer Grace Ellen Barkey (66), who acts as the leader of this ritual about seeing our impermanence to ultimately confront our own dying. With each stage of the performance, we move further from the outside to the inside.

Artistic Team

The main producers are Muziektheater Transparant and the Netherlands Chamber Choir, supported on the flanks by HERMESensemble and Needcompany, who provide their artists. The participation of Huang Ruo (USA, China) as composer and conductor, dramaturge Shuang Zou (China), video artist Lise Bruyneel (Belgium), dancer Grace Ellen Barkey (Indonesia), the Asian, South American, and European singers of the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and the diversity of 'ordinary' people appearing on video make this project a kaleidoscope of cultural encounters. A fertile ground for a work of universally human quality. The team of directors consists of the young Flemish director Aïda Gabriëls (associate artist of Muziektheater Transparant) and Tido Visser (artistic director of the Netherlands Chamber Choir). Peter Quasters, affiliated to Muziektheater Transparant, is responsible for the set and light design. Koen Kessels provides musical advices.

Co-producing Partners

Muziektheater Transparant








Concertgebouw Brugge



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