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Choir of the National Opera

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... 

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. 

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... 

Prince Igor at The National Opera: unfulfilled expectations

'Unleashing war is the best way to escape from yourself,' we read on the gauze screen in front of the Stopera stage. Then the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra begins Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor. A catchy one-liner, but it raises expectations that are not met. Musically, too, this co-production of De Nationale Opera and the New... 

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... 

Straightforward Nozze di Figaro at The National Opera

It is a breath of fresh air that German director David Bösch has not given the libretto of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro a postmodern twist, if necessary to showcase his own genius. No addicts, men in battle gear or cars tearing onto the stage at breakneck speed this time, just a straightforwardly told story. The plot of Lorenzo da... 

Choir and orchestra are the true stars in Pique Dame #HF16

The biggest applause at the end of Tchaikovsky's opera Pique Dame went to the choir of the National Opera and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Wednesday 15 June. And rightly so: choristers and orchestral musicians brought the highly varied score to sound flawlessly, without once getting out of sync with each other. Dynamics, rhythm, phrasing, empathy, everything was solid. A performance of stature rarely seen in the Stopera. The vocal soloists were somewhat pale in comparison.

Gray Trovatore does not strike to the heart

On Thursday 8 October, I saw a live performance of Verdi's opera Il trovatore at Amsterdam's Muziektheater for the first time. It was not an unmixed pleasure. During the first two acts, The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Opera Chorus and the soloists were so out of sync that I considered leaving at the interval. A good friend... 

Crushing Benvenuto Cellini by Terry Gilliam

Even before the final notes of Benvenuto Cellini had sounded, the audience erupted in loud cheers and cheers last night (12 May). So Monty Python director Terry Gilliam's team pulled out all the stops to make this first opera by Hector Berlioz an unforgettable experience. That his dadaesque staging evokes memories of the joke-and-roll approach of the... 

Macbeth as childless killer

On Thursday 9 April, I saw De Nationale Opera's new production of Verdi's tenth opera Macbeth. It was uniformly slammed by the press after its premiere last Friday. German director Andrea Breth, who previously signed on for an understated reading of Prokofiev's The Player, was given a fair shake. The Theaterkrant missed "a good direction of persons", Place de l'Opéra spoke of a "corny staging", Het Parool spoke of "intellectualistic 21st-century director's stuff" and...

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Forget that swan. But where is Lohengrin? ****

Those stars at reviews. Now I'd like to know how you got those. Explain.

Good. The first thirty minutes of Wagner's Lohengrin at De Nationale Opera are unforgettable. First the Vorspiel with the curtain closed, played heartbreakingly beautifully by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra which, under Marc Albrecht's direction, does justice to every nuance. We haven't heard it this impressive and...

But will they maintain that level?

Yes indeed! It only gets better. The orchestra z...

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Scenic world premiere Gurre-Lieder is triumph for Pierre Audi and Marc Albrecht

More than a century we had to wait, but at last Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder also to be seen. Surprisingly, it is not. Reportedly, the composer was against it, as it concerns a cantata. However, director Pierre Audi and conductor Marc Albrecht show very convincingly with this scenic world premiere that Gurre-Lieder hid an opera that yearned for the stage light.

Faust: eye- and ear-pleasing, but distant

In Catholic Limburg, I was taught catechism every week in primary school. "What are we here on earth for?", asked Mr pastor. With the whole class we droned out the answer: "To become happy here and in the hereafter." A similar question occurred to me last night during the performance of the opera Faust by Charles Gounod at The National Opera. "To what end do we go to the theatre?" For me, the answer is: "To be touched, purified, yes maybe even happy." Given the rave reviews, I expected that this would indeed be the case.

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