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Holland Festival celebrated the live arts in corona time

The 74th edition of the Holland Festival closed last weekend with the performances Transverse Orientation by Dimitris Papaioannou, Age of Rage by ITA-Ensemble and Pierrot Lunaire by Marlene Monteiro Freitas. The festival collaborated with two associate artists, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and French-Austrian theatre maker Gisèle Vienne. Twenty-three companies performed one hundred and eleven performances over twenty-five days. The festival presented seven world premiere... You can log in now 

The 74th edition of the Holland Festival kicks off on 3 June

The Holland Festival kicks off on 3 June with Rudi Stephan's performance Die ersten Menschen by De Nationale Opera, a stream of async at the Park Avenue Armory by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Stephen Nomura Schible, and the first episode of the podcast Soft Valkyrie by David Kanaga. State government permission Last week, the Holland Festival received permission from... 

Kaija Saariaho central composer at November Music: subtle timbres paint inky black scenario

Pièce de résistance will be the brand new Reconnaissance (Rusty Mirror Madrigal) for choir, percussion and double bass. Saariaho composed it commissioned by November Music and the Donaueschinger Musiktage. The first performance was scheduled at the German festival, which, however, was also cancelled. - A stroke of luck for November Music.

Culture Council marginally updates opinion, but sticks to controversial decisions

The National Opera had made a mistake in preparing its application. According to the Culture Council, the multi-million-dollar national institution had failed to break down performance data between dance and music. As a result, the company had to come up with an entirely new application before 1 November. Now it turns out that was not so bad. As it turns out, the data... 


The Holland Festival 2020 had an exceptional year; due to the corona pandemic, it did not physically go ahead for the first time in its history. Instead, it was given an online programme as its fulfilment. Holland Festival online programme 2.0-2.0 was the 73rd edition of the festival and the second to work with an associate artist. This year, that was choreographer, director,... 

Ekaterina Levental: 'I come from the very bottom of society, didn't even have the right to be here, was even less than a junkie.'

Singer, harpist and theatre-maker Ekaterina Levental (Tashkent, 1977) came to the Netherlands as a refugee in 1993, where she built a successful career. Together with her partner Chris Koolmees, she made the triptych De Weg, De Grens and Schoppenvrouw, in which she sings of her own difficult road to happiness. With her pocket performances, she holds up a mirror to us: 'We are quick to judge a... 

'The decision to underpay freelancers is incomprehensible and a blot on the record' - 'Leaders in Culture' call for fair payment of freelancers

'How many more talented creators do we have to lose to other sectors because they cannot reconcile the undervaluation with the quality of their product? People choose eggs for their money in the long run, when children need to be fed or mortgages paid. The sector is hollowing itself out if we don't take better care of our talent.' Thirty leaders in the cultural sector speak out 

'I decided to make an unabashedly grand romantic gesture and blow people away' - Mathilde Wantenaar writes new piece for Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

Being creative on demand? That's impossible, you would think. Yet it is the reality for composers and artists who work on commission. Mathilde Wantenaar (1993) therefore got acute choice stress when the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra asked her for a new piece. She was just working on a commission from De Nationale Opera. 'I felt like a rabbit in the... 

Four reasons to go to Pelléas et Mélisande #HF19

The Holland Festival, with its ample offerings, is sometimes its own competitor. For instance, I missed Turan Dokht and the premiere of Pelléas et Mélisande because I was at aus LICHT. To attend a performance of Debussy's only opera, I had to pass up Abd Al Malik's concert. - Cultural choice stress, frustrating on the one hand but a blessing on the other. Was it... 

Podcast! Four strings live in four helicopters, for Stockhausen's 'Aus Licht': 'We still need to do something about those carrier pigeons in terms of planning.'

In 2016, the Holland Festival, De Nationale Opera, the Royal Conservatoire and the Stockhausenstiftung joined forces to stage the German avant-gardist's magnum opus at Amsterdam's Gashouder. Light far surpasses Wagner's Ring des Nibelungen in ambition and scale. Against the four full-length operas of his older colleague, Stockhausen places 'Sieben... 

Tannhäuser at DNO: not director's theatre but subtle take on hypocrisy surrounding courtly and earthly love

A petition was recently started to restore Olivier Keegel's press accreditation by The National Opera. He was denied press passes because he frequently expressed negative views on Pierre Audi's programme choices on the blog Operagazet and in Het Parool. Moreover, he denounced his penchant for "director's theatre", in which, according to him, the content falls prey to a far-fetched... 

Long-winded Juditha Triumphans at DNO

Oratorios are notoriously undramatic, because they only tell a story for one second and do not zoom in on human emotions. Juditha Triumphans is no exception and the narrative itself has little to it. To rid her town of its assailants, Judith gets their general drunk and then cuts off his head. This could make for a compelling story, were it... 

Culture Council: The Netherlands underestimates its own music theatre culture. (Why opera still seeks talent abroad)

The Performing Arts Fund is failing to professionalise and make the music theatre sector sustainable. So says the Council for Culture in an advice leaked yesterday on the future of music theatre in the Netherlands. The advice presented today to the rest of the Netherlands therefore wants to transfer more different music theatre makers and companies from the Performing Arts Fund to the Cultural Basic Infrastructure. This partly... 

Man stronger than Fate? Forget it! - Oedipe by George Enescu at #DNO

Anyone wishing to pass through the gates of Thebes must solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Those who fail die an irrevocable death, their bones fading into the charnel field around her. Oedipus challenges her, determined to save the city. 'Name someone or something more powerful than Fate!', oracles the Sphinx from her single-engine plane. 'Man!', jubilates Oedipus. To which. 

Why it's good that De Nederlandse Reisopera is coming to you with Die Tote Stadt.

In 1920, Erich Wolfgang Korngold experienced triumphs with his psychological opera Die tote Stadt. The work was performed in more than eighty cities at the time, with unanimous critical acclaim. The opera then disappeared from the stage for a long time but is nowadays performed again sparsely. So it is good that the Nederlandse Reisopera is bringing this almost forgotten piece back to the stage.... 

Lessons in Love and Violence: glowing music fails to spark icy drama at @hollandfestival

'Love is poison' Mortimer sings to the king in the first scene of Lessons in Love and Violence. The military adviser denounces his relationship with Gaveston, whom he showered with favours while his subjects went hungry. 'Don't bore me with the price of bread' ripostes the king. Rather than worry, he treats his lover to poetry and music... 

No free tickets for journalists in the cultural sector: censorship or just a matter of business?

Menno Pols, reporter for De Gelderlander, was denied accreditation (free ticket and other benefits) for the three-day Manana Manana festival in Vorden this year. Reason: an article he wrote last year about the money flows within the club behind the festival. That club earns millions mainly from Zwarte Cross, the biggest festival in the Netherlands with 220,000 tickets sold. The accreditation... 

Martin Crimp on Lessons in Love and Violence at the @hollandfestival: 'The past is a playground, in which I can escape from the rolling news.'

No love without power relations. And certainly not when that love takes place in a royal bedroom. That bedchamber is now the setting for a tragic love triangle between a king, his lover and his wife in Lessons in Love and Violence, the third opera by English composer Georges Benjamin and playwright Martin Crimp. The Elizabethan drama Edward II... 

La clemenza di Tito: scorching performance by Teodor Currentzis & musicAeterna

Classical music matters again. - At least if we judge by the protests against the Stockhausen project and the fierce polemics about opera directors' interventions. Teodor Currentzis and Peter Sellars' La clemenza Di Tito, for instance, caused controversy even before its Dutch premiere. They deleted the interminable recitatives and added music from Mozart's Mass in... 

Resolved(?): Ombudsman Allegiance admits carelessness.

This was the email from the editors of Trouw, dated 9 May 2018: "Mr A. Bakx has had the phone number and email address we now have from him under this name since 2014. We therefore assume that he is A. Bakx." Was supported by an email to Erwin Roebroeks, which mentioned a telephone conversation with... 

Theatre from the sofa: from the South Bank of the Thames to Broadway in one evening.

For many a theatre lover, watching from the bench will be swearing in church. The atmosphere in the theatre and direct contact is missing. Totally true, and yet the advantages of sitting comfortably, watching when you want, subtitles and the on-demand W.C. break are also worth something. While enjoying a fireside chat, you're not looking at the back of anyone's head.... 

Ingo Metzmacher conducts Das Floss Der Medusa: 'Death is a very seductive woman'

On Tuesday 13 March, the Opera Forward Festival opens with Hans Werner Henze's Das Floss der Medusa. This 1968 oratorio fits seamlessly with the third edition's theme of Fate and Conscience. It was inspired by a true story from 1816, when the French frigate Méduse ran aground on the African coast. Those on board were left to their fate;... 

Dutch Reisopera 2018-19: We're waiting for the curtain to rise!

We're sitting in the opera house; We're waiting for the curtain to arise With wonders for our eyes; We're feeling pretty gay, [...] A feeling of expectancy, A certain kind of ecstasy, Expectancy and ecstasy... Sh's's's's. "Curtain!" With the above words, Charles Ives sang of the excitement of a child going to the opera for the first time. A similar enthusiasm shows... 

Julia Bullock sings Anne Truelove in #TheRakesProgress: 'Anne is a very mature woman'

At the first opportunity, he abandons her. He leads a debauched life, marries another and ends up in the madhouse. Yet Anne Truelove continues to love Tom Rakewell, the protagonist in The Rake's Progress. The National Opera will present its fourth production of Stravinsky's opera from 1 February, in collaboration with Aix-en-Provence. There, last July, the... 

Keith Haring, Untitled (velum), 1986. Installation 2017. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

I call on the cultural sector of the Netherlands: put 80% of your marketing budget into cultural education.

In my work, I entice people to come into contact with art. And especially art with a big K. The art that is often marketed as 'difficult' or, in an attempt to get rid of its negative image, as 'vulnerable'. Liberal politicians would perhaps say art that 'doesn't act normal'. It is the kind of... 

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