Tuesday 15 February 2022

Four different takes on creating new opera: Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival

Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival

Creating new opera involves not simply putting new notes on paper, but re-examining what opera means in the 21st century and how it should be created, asking the question what should opera be in 2022. As part of its Opera Forward Festival in March 2022, Dutch National Opera & Ballet (DNO) is presenting four very different takes on contemporary opera with three world premieres and a Dutch premiere, with work from two different composers, a collective and a VR pioneer.

British readers will, perhaps, be most interested in the fact that Philip Venables' opera Denis & Katya (originally a co-production between Music Theatre Wales and Opera Philadelphia) will be receiving its Dutch premiere in the production directed by Ted Huffmann. The piece is very much a work for our times, an investigation in the form of an opera into how stories are formed and shared in our age of internet voyeurism, conspiracy theories, fake news and being online 24/7.

Manfred Trojahn's Eurydice - Die Liebenden, blind is inspired both by Greek myth and by Rainer Maria Rilke's terrific Sonette an Orpheus. The new opera is directed by Pierre Audi, with Erik Nielsen conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra with Andrè Schuen as Orpheus, Julia Kleiter as Eurydice, Thomas Oliemans as Pluto, Katia Ledoux as Proserpina. Trojahn's contemporary take on the story uses the power of music to allegorically describe the attraction of the muse-like figure of Eurydice to the singing artist Orpheus, to describe the love between Orpheus and Eurydice as the love between word and sound, between artistry and inspiration.

When Manoj Kamps and Lisenka Heijboer Castañón premiered FAUST [Working Title] with DNO they introduced a working practice that created new work via a collective of performers, designers, writers and composers from different disciplines and backgrounds worked together intensively, sharing stories, teaching each other songs and choreographies and exchanging skills in workshops and through online channels. Their new work, I have missed you forever, follows the same communal creation process. The result will not be the work of a single composer and librettist, but a communal experience shared with the audience.

Orphée | L'Amour | Eurydice brings technology into the mix as inspired by Gluck's opera, opera director Robin Coops and VR pioneer Avinash Changa went on a journey of exploring, resulting in three separate opera experiences that immerse visitors in different ways into the perspectives of Orphée, Eurydice and L'Amour. 

Full details from DNO's website.

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