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Animal Farm

Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival explores uncharted territory, plus Conlon Collective news


Urgent, compelling and extravagant. Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival (OFF) is a contrarian exploration of as yet uncharted territory. OFF seeks sounds that are still under-represented in opera through groundbreaking musical theatre productions, in-depth programs, and new collaborations. Experience the conversation with progressive and critical voices about the future of the art form. OFF is a celebration of what opera essentially is: a fusion of diverse arts into a musical-theatrical whole.

Opera Forward Festival 2023

Three big performances are at the heart of the Opera Forward Festival 2023:

The first production of Animal Farm by Alexander Raskatov has a libretto by Ian Burton, stage direction by Damiano Michieletto and musical direction by Bassem Akiki, with Gennady Bezzubenkov, Misha Kiria, Michael Gniffke, James Kryshak, Germán Olvera, Karl Laquit, Artem Krutko, Helena Rasker, Maya Gour, Elena Vassilieva, Holly Flack, Karl Laquit, Marcel Beekman, Francis van Broekhuizen and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.

This is a musical adaptation of a satirical fable. Animal Farm is a revolutionary opera, based on George Orwell's timeless novel about a fight for freedom doomed to failure. The dystopian atmosphere and turmoil of shifting world views are interpreted in a new, extreme, heady composition.

There are seven performances of Animal Farm at Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam, Netherlands: Friday 3 March at 8pm, Sunday 5 at 2pm, Wednesday 8 at 8pm, Friday 10 at 8pm, Sunday 12 at 2pm, Tue 14 at 8pm and Thursday 16 March 2023 at 8pm.

Animal Farm was commissioned by and is a co-production of Dutch National Opera (Amsterdam), Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna), Teatro Massimo (Palermo) and Finnish National Opera and Ballet (Helsinki).

Next is the first European production of Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine by Tyshawn Sorey, which has texts by Claudia Rankine, stage direction by Peter Sellars and musical direction by Tyshawn Sorey, with Julia Bullock and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

An exceptionally popular artist, a civil rights activist and a heroine of the French resistance, Perle Noire explores the life and struggles of the icon Joséphine Baker from a present-day perspective. The jazz-inspired compositions and improvisations provide meditative reflections on life.

There are three performances of Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine at Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam, on Thursday 9 March, Saturday 11 March and Monday 13 March 2023, all at 8pm. This is the original production by Théatre du Châtelet, Paris, France.

Lastly, the first production of Ändere die Welt! by various composers. Co-creator Pedro Beriso is the musical director, arranger and pianist, and the stage direction is by Mart van Berckel, with Sam Carl, Inna Demenkova, Claire Antoine, Michael Wilmering, Amara van der Elst and Orchestra LUDWIG.

Does change mean progress, if history keeps repeating itself? We shout 'Ändere die Welt!' ('Change the world!') but how do you do it? Dutch National Opera Studio singers and spoken-word artist Amara van der Elst lead the audience through this quirky performance that weaves together existing, familiar music like an innovative collage.

There are two Amsterdam performances of Ändere die Welt! at De Meervaartm on Saturday 11 March at 8.15pm and Sunday 12 March at 4pm, followed by a national tour: Haarlem (12 March), Sittard (17 March), Cuijk (24 March), Zwolle (26 March), Heerlen (28 March), Deventer (30 March) and Leiden (2 April 2023). This is a co-production of Dutch National Opera, Nederlandse Reisopera and Opera Zuid.

The Opera Forward Festival challenges tomorrow's creators to make opera their own. Students from various art schools are inspired by the genre as well as by the ideas and craftsmanship of their peers. During the festival you will experience their research, and discoveries in a variety of forms: the LABS.

What will future opera look like if we break free from conventions? If we abandon unwritten rules? What if we temporarily suspend our (pre-)judgments? Contemporary art forms and popular culture must and will merge into today's opera. We seek what we can in the future by looking at what we do not yet know. In terms of OFF, it's time to enter a new dimension, because that's where the opera of the future is.

Opera is a genre that can move and inspire people. The Opera Forward Festival defies the rules, traditions and mores that have been imposed on it. In a series of talks, we will discuss the genre's and the institution's power and responsibility, as well as their (painful) blind spots.

Posted 7 February 2023 by Thijs Faas and last updated 9 February 2023



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