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The seven performances you must see this Holland Festival

As Big as the Sky


I look forward to Arnoud Noordegraaf's new multimedia project, As Big as the Sky, with sets by Ai Wei Wei. Noordegraaf is a master at blurring the boundaries between film and reality. His music is elegant and appealing and serves the story. As Big as the Sky, to a libretto by Adrian Hornsby, tells the story of the massive building boom in modern China. The countryside is rapidly turning into metropolitan agglomerations and traditional culture is being lost. To preserve a sense of authenticity, Dutch architect Sem builds a gigantic dome over an ancient Chinese village. But then his - Chinese - client decides that those dirty old houses should be replaced by new ones, which are much more 'authentic'. Am curious to see how Noordegraaf manages to capture this time-honoured dilemma between nostalgia and urge for renewal in music and images. Thea Derks

Book of Sand

A performance that is not a performance. Completely in line with the new, emphatically also digital, line taken by the Holland Festival this year, Michel van der Aa made an interactive song cycle based on Borges' stories, for which you no longer need to leave your house. Book of Sand can in fact be viewed on a dedicated website and downloaded as an app. At any moment you can switch between different image and sound layers, and after less than 15 minutes everything starts again. This creates a performance without beginning or end, different every time and nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Henri Drost

Cool Britannia

The programme Cool Britannia of the Dutch National Ballet is on paper in a favourite English word: brilliant. Louis van Gaal, as England coach last season, always spoke of a rat race. British choreographers David Dawson, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon, rat pack of British ballet, are also competing. But for a place on ballet's world stage. No fewer than two premieres appear in this programme. Moreover, Wheeldon just won a prestigious Benois de la danse. I expect and long for superb contemporary ballet with calm and grace. And that is still quite difficult. Because much ballet is hyperactive and all movements are almost by necessity mere ballet steps. I hope this British trio shows answers for the development of classical ballet. Ruben Brugman

The End (with accompanying panel discussion 'What is digital art?')

If everything is an illusion, maybe this is real? An opera with whispered vocals by a virtual pop star with half a million Facebook friends and a repertoire of 100,000 songs. Hatsune Miku is a digitally created singer who lives in a computer brain and appears before us as a ghost on a transparent projection screen. Her voice synthesiser is called Vocaloid. Her creator Crypton Future Media. She leaves us dizzy. Is it a hologram, is it a manga star, is it Japanese mass hysteria, is it the future? There is only one way to get the answer. Experience it for yourself, and surrender to the paradox. Leo Bankersen

The Cherry Garden


A chance to see Russians play Chekhov should never be passed up. You can't really get closer to the original, and at the same time that makes it exciting. Because: can we handle the original? Isn't that a boring museum piece? With this version of Malay Drama Theatre, I am confident that the performance will sparkle, surprise and move. It will add something new, offer new insights. Of course, I am a connoisseur, having directed the play myself once at Utrecht's Fort bij Vechten with heartwarming amateurs, so I can dream the text. But even for those who hardly know Chekhov, the evening will be an experience. For then you will find out that Chekhov's story does not depend on the text. The tragicomedy is in the people and how they view each other. Whether they speak Russian, or Sranantongo. Chekhov is universal. Wijbrand Schaap

Krapp's Last Tape

Although Beckett is played relatively little on the mainstream theatre circuit in the Netherlands, at Waiting for Godot after, the Holland Festival makes sure Beckett-lovers get their money's worth. Two years ago with the wonderful Happy Days Played by Fiona Shaw. This year's Krapp's Last Tape to see, a play about impermanence and loneliness. An old man listens back to tape recordings, as he does every year on his birthday. That world-renowned director Robert Wilson (Dreigrosopper, Life and Death of Marina Abramovich) coming from behind the scenes and taking on the role of the elderly Krapp himself makes one even more curious about this performance. Hannah Roelofs

Lulu Marathon

In a festival anno 2015, why go to see films made some 90 years ago? Because they are the gems of film history and they are hardly ever shown. For that reason alone. But also because these films, Erdgeist and Die Buechse der Pandora, key works are in this instalment of the festival. The biggest production of this festival is probably the opera Lulu. Of these, the libretto is based on two plays by Wedekind and they are, yep, Die Buechse der Pandora and Erdgeist. William Kentridge, who directs the opera is also influenced by films from the Weimar period, as you can see in his exhibition at Eye. Besides, it is always a delight to see films from that period, especially when accompanied by live music. Not to mention Louise Brooks, the face of expressionist cinema. When you think of Lulu, you actually still see her face before you. Helen Westerik

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