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Brotherhood in turbulent times

In 2001, when Rotterdam was European Capital of Culture, a number of institutions joined forces and from this, in 2005, the Rotterdam Opera Days born. The aim is to programme innovative musical theatre in the opera house-less Maasstad after all, often in unusual locations. This year the ninth edition will take place, from 17 to 25 May, with the theme 'brotherhood'.

Last year, artistic director Guy Coolen focused on the theme of (r)evolution, with the battle cry 'liberty, equality, fraternity' borrowed from the French revolution. The theme of brotherhood is particularly topical given recent developments in Ukraine. While the battle between the fraternal peoples of Russia and Ukraine has not yet produced any new musical theatre, the Soselo in Siberia by the Rosa Ensemble and 33 ⅓ Collective does draw inspiration from Stalin, who today is revered by many Russians as a hero of the fatherland.

The libretto of Soselo in Siberia is based on texts by Mandelstam, Von Einzig and Stalin himself, who as a youth wrote poetry under the pseudonym 'Soselo'. Soselo's wife has committed suicide and is exiled for punishment to Siberia, where she is to work on building a new city. The visionary behind this project is Soselo herself. The play is about blurring boundaries between past & present, reality & utopia, hate & love and good & evil. During the benefit concert for the Concertzender on 6 May, the Rosa Ensemble gave a preview. Subtle electronic/acoustic sound tissues and fragile vocals by Eefje de Visser create a rarefied dream world that tastes like more. [Tweet "Subtle sound fabrics and fragile vocals by Eefje de Visser create a rarefied dream world that tastes like more"].

Soselo in Siberia can be seen on its opening night at the Submarine Wharf and then repeated at the Rotterdam Schouwburg. Incidentally, there will be a try-out at TivoliVredenburg on 8 May. Also Being Arthur by composer Lucas Wiegerink and lyricist Anna Maria Versloot is performed in the Submarine Wharf, where the audience is brought in by boat. The legendary British King Arthur and his knights of the round table are considered the personification of the theme of brotherhood and Versloot translated it to the 21st century. It is directed by Karin Netten.

At Being Arthur the knights of the round table and the beloved Guinevere travel across the country in a tour bus, putting the ideals of brotherhood and equality to the test. Lucas Wiegerink wrote nine songs about leadership through the ages. While composing, he was influenced by music from different periods and styles, from Henry Purcell to Romanticism and pop music. Being Arthur is a production of the Kameroperahuis Zwolle, in collaboration with the Rotterdam Operadagen and the Nationale Reisopera, and can later be seen at Ural and during the Zwolle City Festival.

The Submarine Wharf also forms the backdrop of Arthur by director Paul Koek and author Peter Verhelst. Songs by Henry Purcell, performed by B'rock and Cappella Amsterdam, are the starting point for a look at the World War I battlefield, where the little boy Arthur dreams of heroic deeds. And then there is Parsifal by Arlon Luijten and Ben Lammerts van Bueren, who use the city of Rotterdam as the backdrop for a new take on Richard Wagner's play of the same name. The hero Parsifal is held up to a fierce, contemporary light, with the central question: shouldn't we distrust every saviour?

Inevitably, this does make you think of hero/dictator Putin. - And does brotherhood ever last longer than mutual interest?

13 thoughts on “Broederschap in woelige tijden”

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Thea Derks

Thea Derks studied English and Musicology. In 1996, she completed her studies in musicology cum laude at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in contemporary music and in 2014 published the critically acclaimed biography 'Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody'. Four years on, she completed 'An ox on the roof: modern music in vogevlucht', aimed especially at the interested layperson. You buy it here: In 2020, the 3rd edition of the Reinbertbio appeared,with 2 additional chapters describing the period 2014-2020. These also appeared separately as Final Chord.View Author posts

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