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The mother of all art forms. According to opera lovers.

Edition: All Photography: Cees Elzenga/ CE20221018

Reisopera seeks new director. And an artistic colourist.

'Nina Hiddema and the supervisory board have concluded that this is a natural time for Nina to step down.' Nice sentence in the press release that appeared in the mailbox on 15 January. De Reisopera, the Enschede-based opera company that performs operas especially for everything outside Amsterdam and Maastricht, is bidding farewell to director Nina Hiddema after two years. Whether it... 

How can local culture reach a high level against the odds?

A major musical theatre performance, an adapted classical play, an opera and a painting festival. The small municipality of Noordwijk - like that other coastal municipality of Bergen - offers an abundance of culture. All four events rely heavily on talent, subsidies and donations, volunteers, pragmatic thrift. And good weather. Noordwijk aan Zee has been a more than average municipality for centuries. Famous Dutchmen... 

vake poes; or how god disappeared, lisaboa houbrechts Photo by Kurt van der Elst

Vake Poes by Lisaboa Houbrechts at the Holland Festival: in search of beauty in a very dark story

'Sometimes people come to me crying to tell their stories, things they have experienced.' Theatre-maker, author, director Lisaboa Houbrechts has stirred things up with Vake Poes, the theatrical family epic she created with the Flemish company La Geste. The intense performance, in its lyricism fitting into the oeuvre of Alain Platel's Les Ballets C de la B... 

Scene image Bacchae by Alex Kat

The Bacchae at the Holland Festival: Nietzsche, rock-hard beats and beautiful operatic voices in a wild plea for queerness.

'Simplicity is the problem of our time. Simplicity is labelling. It should be about fluidity and confusion.' Greek opera-maker Elli Papakonstantinou, whose star has risen rapidly in recent years, is performing a contemporary version of Euripides' classic tragedy 'Bacchantes' at this year's Holland Festival. In that 405 BC play, wine god Dionysus (also known... 

Still from trailer Carmina Burana

A Ukrainian Carmina Burana with an Amersfoort touch, thanks to Gerard Mosterd.

'Carmina Burana is the first project in Ukraine where I had a free hand to really turn it into something completely different. I didn't have to adapt an existing production, but could create a whole new performance from scratch.' Gerard Mosterd (1964) has a long career behind him as a dancer and choreographer. Now he is also a producer of... 

Asko|Schönberg at opening night Sydney Festival with opera Antarctica

After a successful premiere at the Holland Festival, Asko|Schönberg will bring Australian composer Mary Finsterer's opera Antarctica to the internationally renowned Sydney Festival in Australia. Antarctica will play during the opening night on 5 January 2023 and three more times after. Asko|Schönberg will also play a concert at the Sydney Opera House during the festival on 9 January, with Dutch composers... 

Jelinek's Kein Licht offers extra suffocation in already dark times. #HF22

Actually, it was too bad to persevere. Perhaps I should indeed have followed my impulse to walk away hard, but I stayed with Kein Licht. Indeed, this play, written by Elfriede Jelinek, composed by Philippe Manoury and directed by Nicolas Stemann, was technically quite good. Only that little dog, I so did not like that. Animals and... 

ANTARCTICA - at the Holland Festival : World premiere of an opera about the mysterious continent on 5 and 6 June

Asko|Schönberg premieres Mary Finsterer's new opera at the Holland Festival. Antarctica takes us into the mysterious world of the southern continent. A multidisciplinary performance in which the Australian composer links historical, mythical and scientific images and stories about Antarctica. In doing so, she uses an enchanting combination of musical elements from old and new styles.... 

NRC asked when Wagner would be cancelled. At the Holland Festival, we get an answer to that question, via Schauspielhaus Zurich #HF22

'For me, the world of Wotan equals the world of Putin.' Christopher Ruping, director of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen to be shown in Amsterdam in June, makes no bones about it: 'Siegfried [central character of Wagner's monster production, ws] is a very problematic character. He kills the dragon without asking questions. We give the dragon... 

Ben Frost shoots at elusive state violence with 130-decibel musical bullets #HF22

Once upon a time, Ben Frost started out as a composer of laden ambient music. Not necessarily upbeat, more contemplative and just a little depressing of the kind that can be used to add some colour to a dip. Take the piece "You, Me and the End of Everything," which can be found on YouTube. Compared to the score of The Murder of Halit Yozgat,... 

I have missed you forever - 0pera Forward Festival, premiere 12 to 18 March

What does it mean to make opera as a collective? And what does it mean to do so in an inclusive way? In collaboration with De Nationale Opera, Asko|Schönberg is freeing up space for experimentation, both on stage and in the rehearsal studio. That space is for research into new forms of work with a collective character. From this collaboration comes in the... 

Nina Hiddema, director a.i. of the Netherlands Reisopera: 'Nicolas Mansfield's succession is going to take some time to complete

'A sorcerer's apprentice? It is really not the case that Josef Fuchs could and would single-handedly bend an entire application process to his will. That is pertinently untrue and I even find it damaging to his person.' Nina Hiddema reacts vehemently to our article on Josef Fuchs' remarkable job title, and the change in it. Read more about the... 

From 'artistic director' to 'deputy artistic director': what is Josef Fuchs' position at the Netherlands Reisopera?

Last Monday, 20 September, the Nederlandse Reisopera presented its programme for the upcoming season. The speaker was Josef Fuchs, who was introduced as the company's new artistic director by its general director a.i. Nina Hiddema. A festive occasion, which caused slight surprise in the small gathering (a few journalists and some colleagues). In an interview (below... 

This year's Theatre Festival Boulevard feels greener than usual - and you'll notice it in the performances #tfboulevard

The permanent site of Boulevard's festival centre has largely turned into a construction site this year. This forced the organisers to move to Zuiderpark. Although this is a bit outside the city centre, it is much more spacious and green than the Parade square. It gives the festival a nice feeling of air, space and proximity to the... 

TIME by Ryuichi Sakomoto: how five quarters can flash by in a thousand years. #HF12

In a legendary episode of the SF series Star Trek, The Next Generation, for fans like me, Captain Picard is hit by a strange light signal from an empty probe. We then switch to a village to which the captain seems to have been teleported and see how he leads quite a life as a village wise and gifted flute player. At the end, he dies... 

Ine Aya: Wodan's state visit to Kalimantan raises quite a few questions #HF21

After three centuries of colonial oppression and exploitation, it is now pay-back time. However, we, the progeny of the navy that came to get nutmeg there, are not so good at it. Because we come back to Indonesia with mass tourism, cheap clothing dyers and multinationals like Unilever. We do little else but drain the place further. Economically, but also culturally. This can be subject... 

Goodbye movie house, longing for museums: (my) insights after corona

What does culture visit after corona look like? The topic came up regularly on this site in recent months. I myself wrote two personal contributions on it. Now that cultural institutions may almost reopen their doors, the crystal ball is giving way to reality. In my article on 'the promise of the empty hall', I noted a reluctance to... 


From 11 to 21 June, the Holland Festival will present an online programme as close as possible to the core and essence of the original programme, which was cancelled due to the corona crisis. Together with artists from around the world who were due to perform in the 2020 festival, an alternative online programme has been put together. The festival theme, suggested by... 

#Corona-classics I: Le Dernier sorcier Pauline Viardot

When corona measures were declared on Thursday 12 March, it felt surreal at first. The next day, the world premiere of Willem Jeths' opera Ritratto fell through. I had been looking forward to this immensely, just like all the other productions in the Opera Forward Festival. Besides, I was in the midst of preparations for numerous introductions the next... 


It is with great regret that the Holland Festival is forced to cancel the 73rd edition, which was to take place from 4 to 28 June 2020. The corona pandemic's persistent, domestic and foreign restrictions and uncertainties make it impossible for the international performing arts festival to take place. The ongoing, restrictive measures that the central government had to announce 21 April last,... 

Retrospect Opera presents Fête Galante by unjustly forgotten Ethel Smyth - Buy that CD!

'Had I not possessed three things unrelated to music, I would have perished early on from loneliness and disillusionment,' wrote Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) at 60. Those three things were: 'Iron health, a distinct fighting spirit and a modest but independent income.' Whereas women in the nineteenth century were condemned to compose 

L'Orfeo: this wonderful performance deserves to tour internationally!

The new production of L'Orfeo by De Nederlandse Reisopera and Opera2Day is a form of total theatre in which Wagner would have licked his fingers. In her direction, Monique Wagemakers forges song, dance, music, costumes and scenery into an inseparable whole. The performance is compelling, poetic and enchanting and fits seamlessly with the stylised language with which Monteverdi in 1607 presented the... 

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