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Tiago Rodrigues directs Isabelle Huppert in The Cherry Garden at the Holland Festival: 'From Chekhov, the best friend of all actors in the world, we play every note.'

'For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to play all the notes written by Chekhov. It was an intellectual and artistic challenge to really work with Chekhov. I could really let Chekhov be one of the authors of the play, which is very unusual for me. After all, I'm used to writing plays to... 

The 'weird life' of all-rounder Jef Last is not over

Better to die standing than to live kneeling. The statement is fresh in memory after the murder in the Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat, as a mantra in praise of Peter R de Vries, his fearlessness, non-conformism, straightforwardness and honesty. This same statement jumps out even from the first paragraphs of the introduction to the biography of poet Jef Last, written by Rudi Wester.1.... 

Godfried Bomans: respectively loved, vilified, misunderstood and forgotten

Godfried Bomans died half a century ago. Almost immediately afterwards, the Netherlands' best-loved writer sank into oblivion. It is time for a reappraisal of Bomans' literary work and even his political views. I delved into the archives, also looking for the few traces of Bomans in Amersfoort. First some round figures. Seventy years ago, he delivered a lecture... 

A trip around the world, a bike, a cat and her bodyguard Dean: 'Nala makes my life a lot more exciting'

When he left Dunbar over two years ago for a round-the-world bicycle trip, Scottish Dean Nicholson (32) could not have suspected how much his life would change. When he rescued a kitten a few weeks old from a ditch in Bosnia, his life took a completely different turn. Since then, Nala and he have been inseparable, cycling together... 

Alaa al Aswani: 'Literature doesn't change politics, it changes people'

Four years ago at the Winternachten Festival in The Hague, we spoke about it with Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswani, who was disarmingly upbeat despite the fact that he can barely publish in his own country. On lack of freedom of expression and fiction in times of fake, this year's theme, Al Aswani could have a word. 'Freedom of expression is even worse now than under dictator Mubarak.'

Kersjes Prize winner Lodewijk van der Ree: 'Language strongly determines the sound of a choir'

'An inspired conductor, with an intelligent approach to the score, a clear stroke and the ability to draw a choir into his vision. So says the jury of the Kersjes Prize about Lodewijk van der Ree (1986), who received this year's conducting prize. I have worked with him many times before and can wholeheartedly endorse this statement. Carte... 

'Art tax cuts and a cultural fund will be created as an incentive for homeowners to invest in works of art.' (How we think the throne speech should have read)

Members of the States General, This year about 72 years ago we had the first Holland Festival. After years of enslavement and tyranny, hope for a better future literally came from above, in the form of Maria Callas. Eyewitnesses who saw the lights in the Stadsschouwburg turn red that day would never forget that image. 72 years later, it seems... 

The Best Listening Cultural Press PODCAST! Greg Nottrot visited Putin's dacha, where Halbe Zijlstra was not.

'How many realities can we handle? For me, that is the theme of 2018. Those ladies from North Korea who were cheering, for example. But it was also in Halbe Zijlstra who had lied about Putin's dacha.' Greg Nottrot, theatre maker from Utrecht, had set out for this year to create an end-of-year performance that would capture the zeitgeist well.... 

Major concerns over fate of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov - eight weeks on hunger strike in Russian captivity

Human rights organisations from around the world and thousands of filmmakers and artists express support for Oleg Sentsov, sentenced to 20 years by Russia. This Ukrainian filmmaker has been on hunger strike since 14 May. His life is in serious danger, according to the European Film Academy.

German Anna Karenina in @hollandfestival as seventies disco show: 'We were sometimes worried whether we were going too far. But then we always had the music.'

Germans and humour. I have a bad experience with that. Will largely be because I don't get the finer nuances of the language, especially if it is meant for laughter. So it's not that the German sense of humour is wrong. In fact, sometimes something can just happen in German theatre that makes you laugh. I want... 

Podcast: This year, Poetry International explores the role of nationalism in poetry.

Jan Baeke has been associated with Poetry International as a programmer for many years. In this podcast, I talk to him about the programme and the theme of this 49th edition: The Nation of Poetry. It's about nationalism, of course, but also about identity. And about what role poetry plays in that. And then, of course, it's not primarily about folk songs. We... 

Why Wierd Duk often does exactly what he fights himself.

Uproar. A widely recognised and by his own admission always attacked opinion maker with a slight preference for strong men in Russia and America has discovered that art is leftist and elitist. Indeed, Wierd Duk, Russia expert since he spent a few years running around Moscow for various media outlets, writes in the Telegraph that art is often left-wing kitsch[ref]N[ref][/ref]Wierd Duk has since revealed... 

Sofia Gubaidoelina: 'Only in the West could I set myself large-scale goals and realise them'

Sofia Gubaidoelina has become a true audience favourite in our country. She is also a welcome guest in broadcasting series. The AVROTROS Friday Concert, for instance, brought the Dutch premieres of Glorious Percussion (2011) and O Komm, Heiliger Geist (2016). Friday 23 March will see the first Dutch performance of her Triple Concerto for bayan, violin and cello. The piece is dedicated to... 

Baltic souls by Cappella Amsterdam: Estonia 100 years independent/not independent

Although Estonia is almost 4,000 square kilometres larger than the Netherlands, it has barely more inhabitants than the province of Utrecht. For centuries, superpowers such as Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland disputed rule over this country on the Baltic Sea. Indeed, its geographical location made it an important link between East and West. It was not until 1918 that a state of its own was declared, but... 

Whether thriller writer Tomas Ross (73) has now mastered writing after dozens of books? 'Sometimes I shudder at my own sentences'

Tomas Ross, also called the godfather of Dutch 'faction', concludes his trilogy on the Dutch East Indies with his new thriller Het verdriet van Wilhelmina. ,,Readers often say: with you, we never know what is true and what is false. You might find that an objection, but I think it's a compliment.'' Arnie Springer The new thriller by Tomas... 

Composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas: 'Music has no nationality'

The most recent achievement of Russian-Swedish composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas (b. 1969) is Dracula. This opera based on Bram Stoker's book of the same name premiered at Royal Opera Stockholm in October 2017. A 'colourful and highly atmospheric musical score', it included 'one of the most emotional scenes in the history of Swedish opera', wrote one critic. Seven years earlier,... 

Ensemble 1904: loving CD portrait of forgotten Poldowski

Poldowski re-imagined is the name of French Ensemble 1904's latest CD. Poldowski who? Well, like many of her colleagues, this Polish-British composer (1879-1932) is all but forgotten. Her name, too, is problematic. Born the youngest daughter of violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski, her official name was Irène Régine Wieniawski. However, she published her first compositions as Irène Wieniawska. After... 

Are we still capable of having a real opinion?

I read the biography of Jacob Israel De Haan, Onrust, by Jan Fontijn. Writer and director Gerardjan Rijnders based Salaam Jerusalem on this biography. It is this play, performed by De Nieuw Amsterdam, that really makes me realise how urgent it is to let such an almost forgotten figure as De Haan speak. Jacob Israel De Haan overturned taboos, fought... 

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... 

Ten reasons to go to literary festival Winternachten

Writers Unlimited could hardly have chosen a more appropriate theme for this year's literary festival Winternachten: Is this the real life? That question will be on many a mind when the new president of the United States is inaugurated on Friday. Fortunately, some eighty writers who do have something meaningful to say about the state of... 

My 2016, and why it scared me to death. (A list)

Five art experiences will always stick to this bizarre year for me. And one thing really scared me. Whether the worst is now behind us? At least the most extraordinary is still on view until 5 February 2017. A chronological overview of what was unbelievable, unthinkable, inconceivable, unbelievable and perhaps untrue. Much of it, by the way, will be in 2017... 

Hugh Aldersey-Williams: 'Ignorance about the tide puts us at risk'

Sea monsters, devouring whirlpools and seductive sirens - the primal power of the sea has been a source of awe, fear, fascination and myth for humans for centuries. In millions of years, the tide will no longer exist, but until then, we still have plenty to do with its beauty and dangers. In The Tide, published last month, the British ... 

Edward Snowden and Oliver Stone make a resounding statement

In the presence of Amnesty International and Edward Snowden - via a video link from Moscow - Oliver Stone's new film Snowden premiered at Tuschinski on Thursday night. The dramatised story of the young, gifted public servant who is troubled by conscience and decides to go to the press is not very original or compellingly portrayed. But on the wave of... 

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