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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... 

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. 

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... 

Choir and orchestra shine in La forza del destino #DNO

From the ominous clarion notes at the beginning to the whisper strings dying into nothingness at the end, everything sounds like clockwork. Yet Michele Mariotti is conducting Giuseppe Verdi's La forza del destino for the first time. He makes his debut at De Nationale Opera with this rarely performed opera. Mariotti came, saw and conquered. He seems to be a born Verdi interpreter, from... 

Warlikowski's direction of Wozzeck is impressive, but does not grab you by the throat

We have to perform, from an early age. If you don't go along with that, you will be left out. It is the thrust of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, now to be seen at De Nationale Opera directed by Krzystof Warlikowski. The Polish theatre innovator has turned one of the most dramatic operas in music history into a fascinating musical... 

How I found love for opera in Sexyland. (And how you can too) #0FF17

A prelaunch of the Opera Forward Festival OFF [hints]From 18 to 31 March at De Nationale Opera (formerly the Muziektheater/Stopera)[/hints], among other venues, was organised last night at Amsterdam's new society Sexyland. I was impressed. Pretty surprising. Opera Nopera Disclaimer: the author of this one is not an opera director. The last two operas I saw were both by Philip Glass (the true... 

Decors steal the show in The National Opera's Parsifal

Austrian bass Günther Groissböck received the biggest applause in Parsifal on Thursday 15 December, for his role as Gurnemanz. A close second was Russian soprano Elena Pankratova. She signed for the vocal part of Kundry, who took shape on stage in the person of assistant director Astrid van den Akker. However, judging by the deafening cheers, the audience was the... 

Compelling Jephta by Handel at The National Opera

To get straight to the point: the National Opera's new production of Handel's oratorio Jephta is superb. Decors, costumes, staging and performance: all top-notch. So after the premiere Wednesday 9 November, performers and production team received a well-deserved ovation from a sold-out Stopera. It is no mean feat the small dramatic... 

Cool Manon Lescaut at The National Opera

In front of a sold-out Stopera, De Nationale Opera presented its new production of Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut on Monday 10 October. Directed by Andrea Breth, the musical director is Alexander Joel. The lead role is sung by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, who was loudly applauded afterwards. The bad news First but the bad news. The... 

Jubilee concert #DNO: unnecessary flexing of muscles

'I feel cheated,' said the man next to me as we left the auditorium at ten to nine-thirty. He had come all the way from Tilburg to the Stopera for the concert that concluded the National Opera's 50th anniversary on Wednesday 29 June. 'It will take me even longer than the concert lasted, including intermission,' he grumbled. He also had little to say about the offering itself. And that while all around us the audience stood on their seats to cheer on the internationally renowned soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek.

Louis Andriessen: 'I've never found a new sound'

For Theatre of the World, his fifth full-length opera, Louis Andriessen (1939) was inspired by the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680). He was the last Renaissance man, someone who could do everything and knew everything. Kircher wrote books full of the most diverse subjects, from the meaning of hieroglyphics to vulcanology and musical instruments. He even designed a cat piano, based on the idea that each cat screams at a different pitch when you press ...

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Don Giovanni faces leaden seriousness at National Opera

For a dramma giocoso, there was precious little to laugh at during a performance of Don Giovanni by De Nationale Opera on Tuesday 10 May. This production, taken over from the Salzburg Festival, is weighed down by a leaden seriousness, exacerbated by the turbo-Mozart presented to us by conductor Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite his often punishing tempi, the... 

Kaija Saariaho on her new opera: "Peter Sellars is not appreciated"

Huge, deep black shadows fall on a backdrop of calligraphic foliage in every conceivable shade of grey. Director Peter Sellars intently follows the movements of the three main characters during a run-through of 'Feather Mantle' at De Nationale Opera. Together with 'Always Strong', this short opera forms the double-bill Only the Sound Remains by Kaija Saariaho with which 15 March's Opera Forward Festival... 

Photo: Monique van de Wijdeven

The 10 theatre performances you actually wanted to see in 2014, even if you had to leave Amsterdam for half of them

It's raining annual lists and we're merrily joining in. As subjective as anyone, after all, no one sees everything, and opinions on taste can always differ. Of course, also in this list many performances in or from the Randstad, but half of them were not yet shown there. And all genres mixed together. As long as it is theatre. With the only limitation: no repeats, apologies Ring and Lohengrin (DNO), St John Passion (NRO). And no dance, because for that our partner dance audience

Frighteningly predictable or provocatively good? The Player at De Nederlandse Opera

Prokofiev's The Player is an hour and a half of drama, then after the interval it really becomes opera. This is not down to the soloists, not to the direction or sets, and certainly not to the excellent Residentie Orkest conducted by Marc Albrecht. Perhaps the music and libretto are too ingenious, Prokofiev was too faithful to Dostoevsky's book to make it a real opera. And perhaps Andrea Breth is too good a stage director for this opera. "Watch the surtitles especially carefully," she told me just before the premiere, "so you don't miss anything."

From Dutch to National and vice versa. DNO and NRO give lesson on name change and collaboration

A joint press conference by two companies. In the post-Zijlstra era, that often does not bode well. A merger then seems obvious, especially when it involves the two largest opera companies in our country: De Nederlandse Opera and the Nationale Reisopera. Only now we have to turn that around: the Netherlands Opera will become the National Opera. And the building will be called National Opera and Ballet.

A logical name change given the administrative merger of the Music Theatre, The Na...

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Prokofiev fairytale opera on repeat

L'amour des trois oranges

In 2005, director Laurent Pelly and conductor Stéphane Denève enchanted Dutch audiences with their vision of Sergei Prokofiev's L'amour des trois oranges. With its inventive sets, supremely musical direction, dazzling costumes and superb performances by soloists, DNO's Choir and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, this production by the Netherlands Opera met the most highly tense...

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Die Zauberflöte II - Overwhelming, but then?


Two years ago he was acclaimed for his staging of A Dog's Heart by Alexander Raskatov, now he is lavishly believed for his production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. It premiered last week at The Netherlands Opera and last night too, the sold-out audience responded enthusiastically. Yet the high expectations were not quite met.

Getting there, right now! DNO retakes Das Rheingold

They had almost been thrown away: George Tsypin's immense sets for Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Not because his staging was unsuccessful or would have become obsolete by now, but simply because storage was too hefty a cost for the Netherlands Opera.

Immense they are, the sets that designer and architect Tsypin first presented at De Nederlandse Opera almost 20 years ago. The Muziektheater's stage is among the largest in the world, the width is 32 ...

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