Skip to content

Heartbreak does not lead to great theatre - Volksoperahuis presents a rather long and winding road

She welcomes the audience into her small wedding chapel in juicy American. 'My name is Joe,' she says with a mischievous smile, 'I can't help it, my father was having a good time when he chose my name.' Today, Manoushka Zeegelaar Breeveld will perform in The Long and Winding Road of the People's Opera House to 'marry' a couple plucked from the audience. And mind you, there is no intention of getting married today and running off with someone else tomorrow! Behind me, an American couple preens their agreement.

From the very first second, Zeegelaar Breeveld winds Parade visitors around her fingers with her enormous charm and flux-de-bouche. 'Hey, don't be so slow,' she shouts when the pianist plays a song too slowly for her taste. Suggestively swaying her hips, she adds: 'You know how I like it!' And right on top of that; 'We've been married for 150 years, so he should.' She pairs a deeply resonant, soulful voice with perfect diction and expressive facial expressions - you immediately hang on her every word.

Then the time seems right for the real thing. She asks her husband who is scheduled for the wedding ceremony today and complains that those Dutch names are such tongue twisters. When the husband-to-be turns out to be called Zoë, she says ad rem; 'Ah, so your father was having a good time too, when he named you.' After marrying the giggling couple, she suddenly switches to accentless Dutch. This comic and alienating element runs like a thread through the performance.

Million dollar dress

Suddenly, the ringmaster spots a man who got married in her chapel two years ago. Full of typical American enthusiasm, she greets him. How wonderful to see him here again! They were such a beautiful couple and she was starkly jealous of that gorgeous million-dollar dress of the bride. - But where is his 'princess' now? In reply, he helplessly raises his arms. Just when you think, how clever that she remembers all that, he steps on stage and sings a song. Ah, it turns out to be Jef Hofmeister, the man behind the People's Opera House.

After this, the story unfolds, told by Zeegelaar Breeveld: the man who married his great love two years ago lost her to death not long after. Desperate, he travels the world, visiting all the places they once visited together. Each city gets its own song, from Havana to Lisbon and from Las Vegas to Amsterdam. This is where the performance tilts, as it is no longer Zeegelaar Breeveld who takes centre stage, but Hofmeister, a considerably less gifted singer and actor.

Tragedy does not become palpable

True, the play is based on his own life, but not for a moment does he manage to make the underlying tragedy palpable. Nor does it help that the story is so episodic. Gradually, all the spice seeps out of the performance, making the way very long and winding becomes. It is of course sad that Hofmeister lost the love of his life, but he unfortunately failed to sublimate his grief into grand and compelling theatre.

- The brand-new 'couple' and another visitor, incidentally, thought otherwise:

The Long and Winding Road can still be visited tonight, see the website for times.

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

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)