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Why I hope to meet those youngsters from that particular reading club here: Olga Neuwirth composes soundtrack to Die Stadt ohne Juden

Emerging fascism is becoming increasingly parlous. Especially among young people, I discovered recently at a concert by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw. A reading club of twenty-somethings said they enjoyed James MacMillan's Second Percussion Concerto. They joined me in denouncing the draconian cuts to culture. But suddenly it sounded carefree: 'We are all voting for Thierry.' When I was dismayed... 

Conductor Elim Chan: 'I can't walk away from the music.'

'When I unexpectedly had to conduct the "Dies Irae" from Verdi's Requiem Verdi, I felt how raw and impactful music could be. I knew immediately: I can no longer run away from music.' Elim Chan is moving like a rocket and will make her debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra on 17 January. In 2014, Elim Chan (Hong Kong, 1986) was the first female... 

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... 

Shout out! The big fill-in for the new arts plan.

The Council for Culture has just proposed the new Basic Infrastructure (BIS), and it has become a very big, in traditional terms 'prosperous', baby. Since the Council is not allowed to name names, and can only list functions, we have already made a fill-in list here, in which we list (very briefly, because little time and not knowing about everything) which existing cultural... 

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. 

Between nappy and dishes - the (in)visibility of female composers

Amsterdam, 8 March 2018. Today is Women's Day, no one can fail to notice. The media are brimming with articles about women's unequal pay and their still limited representation in prestigious positions. Whether in politics, business, academia or the arts. Perhaps the most conservative is the classical music world. There, the female composer has yet to... 

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... 

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... 

Cello Biennale opens spectacularly: Maarten Mostert likes to go big

The Cello Biennale Amsterdam, the world's largest cello festival taking place from 20 to 29 October in Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, has begun and it is already taking a battering. For ten days, 27 international cello soloists, 6 orchestras, 11 ensembles, 1 choir and many musicians from 26 countries will give over 800 performances. From morning... 

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... 

These are the winners, losers and newcomers in Amsterdam arts

Diversity in the Amsterdam art world is not yet flourishing. The Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, which announced its grant awards today, is getting a bit tired of it: "Across most disciplines, committees note that cultural diversity of audiences, staff and governance is disappointing, as are efforts to change this. Outside specialised organisations for which cultural diversity is a core business, ambitions are still not high, despite two decades of cultural policy in this area. If the ambitions are there, organisations do not always manage to give them hands and feet. There often seems to be a certain discomfort or 'not knowing how'."

So to start with the good news: Marmoucha grows 398 per cent compared to the previous grant round. The capital's producer and promoter of performing arts in the field of North African and Middle Eastern arts and culture in the Netherlands was severely cut back in 2013, but the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts found its work over the past four years to be so good that the grant has been more than deserved. In the new round of awards which became known on 1 August they rise from 25,070 euros to a tonne, adding that perhaps they should not be so ambitious.

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... 

Roméo et Juliette proves: synthesis of opera and ballet exists

Most impressive is the moment when the orchestra falls silent and Romeo tries desperately to storm the white wall behind which his sweetheart Juliet has disappeared. Time after time, he runs up the steep slope, only to slide down defeated each time. His wild jumps and trotting make his black coat tails flutter high, as if he were a tipsy bird in... 

Composer Anna Meredith: 'It was a revelation that classical music is a living art form'

On 4 March 2016, her debut CD Varmints, a mixture of new-classical, electronica and avant-pop, was released and Scottish-Canadian Anna Meredith (b. 1978) was showered with praise. 'One of the most innovative minds in modern British music,' wrote one critic. 'Vibrant and kaleidoscopic,' wrote another. 'Exceptional soundscapes of synthesisers, beats and other things' reposted a third. A fourth felt... 

Composer Joey Roukens: 'In my new Violin Concerto, I explore my lyrical side'

Joey Roukens (Schiedam, 1982) studied composition at Rotterdam Conservatory and took private piano lessons with Ton Hartsuiker. Since graduating in 2006, he has been able to reach a large audience with his energetic, infectious music. Commissions are pouring in, from no small number of clients. He has already written two pieces for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: Out of Control (2011) and Chase... 

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... 

No new merger orchestras, no merger Reisopera and Opera Zuid

Bussemaker invests 18 million in the arts and a symphony orchestra for pop and jazz added. It seems too good to be true. And so it is. Because in return for that one extra orchestra, two other orchestras will be cut. At least, that's how the minister's letter can easily be read. That's how I read it too, at least. Currently... 

La bohème 2: verismo of the highest order

After the premiere of Puccini's perhaps most beloved opera La bohème at De Nationale Opera last Thursday, critics were divided in their reaction. Trouw praised conductor Roberto Palumbo, who 'can maximise Puccini's masterful effects', Place de l'Opéra chided the Italian for taking 'too much freedom in the phrasing of the melodies'. Culture Press colleague Henri Drost did not keep it dry 

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 30 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...

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.

Strauss evening of unprecedented height: Arabella as vorspiel of Scenes from a marriage

To perhaps the most beautiful music written by Strauss, Arabella descends the stairs and hands Mandryka a glass of water. Their engagement is thus sealed. Behind the loving couple, however, an inky black space opens up into which both disappear.

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