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Theatre of the world Louis Andriessen (1939)

This show was to been seen in June 2016


Duration 1:50

By Louis Andriessen

Language English, German, French, Middle Dutch, Latin, Spanish, Italian

Surtitles English & Dutch

‘Leigh Melrose solid as Kircher. (..) Lindsay Kesselman plays ‘a boy, an ambiguous character of Mephostophelian tendencies, with clean precision’ - Financial Times ***

A humorous, mysterious and diabolical creation.’ - Bachtrack ***

Louis Andriessen, together with librettist Helmut Krausser,  sketches the story of a colourful character in his new opera Theatre of the World. As Andriessen also Reinbert de Leeuw returns to Dutch National Opera with his ensemble Asko|Schönberg. The production is designed by the brothers Quay and directed by Pierre Audi. Theatre of the World has all the ingredients of a very special opera.

In short

Theatre of the World is inspired by the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680), who was seen as the last Renaissance man; a scholar who was learned on all fronts. Kircher was an Egyptologist, a Sinologist, a mathematician, a physicist, a volcanologist, a music theoretician and a composer, among other things. One of the tasks of the Jesuits was to seek God’s presence in everything. The results were then shown visually in a ‘theatre of the world’.

In Theatre of the World, Kircher travels through time and space, accompanied by a twelve-year-old boy. Is the boy his pupil, himself at a young age or the devil? He crosses the river of death, sees the tower of Babel and ends up in China. The journey is supposed to help him remember everything he has ever experienced. If Kircher can remain who he is, will that be in heaven or in hell? The old, weak man wants to make his peace with God. At his graveside, his loved one Juana praises the splendour of the world.

Watch the trailer of Theatre of the World.
See how the decor of Theatre of the World is built in Royal Theatre Carré.
What makes a scientist, archaeologist and poet Athanasius Kircher such a fascinating subject for an opera? Director Pierre Audi and composer Louis Andriessen explain.
An opera about the last man who knew everything. Pierre Audi, Louis Andriessen and the Quay Brothers explain more about the creative process of this extraordinary opera.
  • Pierre Audi

    Director of Dutch National Opera, resident director

    PIERRE AUDI (stage director) became director of De Nederlandse Opera in 1988. As of 1 January 2013 he has become Director of Dutch National Opera. In the twenty-five years of his leadership of Dutch National Opera and its forerunner, De Nederlandse Opera, he is credited with giving the Netherlands its own opera tradition. His combined vision and audacity have earned him respect, both in the Netherlands and far beyond its borders, as both the Director of Dutch National Opera and as a stage director.

    Reinbert de Leeuw

    Muzikale leiding

    REINBERT DE LEEUW (musical director) studied piano and music theory at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and then went on to study composition with Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. He has been the conductor of ASKO|Schönberg since its foundation in 1974.

    Team, Cast and Chorus

    Musical Director 
    Reinbert de Leeuw
    Stage Director 
    Pierre Audi
    Decor and video 
    Quay Brothers
    Florence von Gerkan
    Lighting design 
    Jean Kalman
    Klaus Bertisch
    Athanasius Kircher 
    Leigh Melrose
    A boy 
    Lindsay Kesselman
    Pope Innozenzo XI 
    Marcel Beekman
    Sor Juana Ínes de la Cruz 
    Cristina Zavalloni
    The carnifex 
    Mattijs van de Woerd
    A couple of secret lovers (He and She) 
    Nora Fischer, Martijn Cornet
    Steven Van Watermeulen
    Die Nachwelt (in person van Voltaire, Descartes, Goethe en Leibnitz) 
    Jeroen de Vaal, Pascal Pittie, Michael Wilmering, Tomeu Bibiloni
    Raffaele Fabretti 
    Steven Van Watermeulen
    Three witches 
    Charlotte Houberg, Sophie Fetokaki, Ingeborg Bröcheler – talent


    The composer Louis Andriessen has built up a very impressive career, both in the Netherlands and abroad. His productions for Dutch National Opera have included Reconstructie (1969), De Materie (1989), ROSA, a Horse Drama (1994), Writing to Vermeer (1999) and La Commedia (2008).


    The libretto for Theatre of the World is by Helmut Krausser: writer, poet and playwright. He is internationally renowned as one of the best authors of the young German generation. His breakthrough came with his novel Melodien oder Nachträge zum quecksilbernen Zeitalter.

    The brothers Quay

    The identical twins are building up a mysterious and dark oeuvre of distinctive animation films, for which they invent and create everything themselves. A big exhibition of their work was held in EYE in 2014.

    Main role

    One of the main roles in Theatre of the World is sung by Cristina Zavalloni, the current ‘muse’ of Louis Andriessen, who said about her: “I heard her for the first time in The Hague [...] and nearly fell off my chair”.


    Asko|Schönberg specialises in contemporary classical music. The famous ensemble is conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, who is making his return to Dutch National Opera, where he has conducted several Andriessen operas in the past.


    Commisioned by: Dutch National Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic

    Coproduction with: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Holland Festival 2016


    This opera is supported by: 

      Fri 27 May Theatre of the World in LA Times (mei 2016)

      ‘Louis Andriessen is the great argumentative opera composer of our day .. He is, moreover, a master of operatic argument.’- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

      Fri 27 May Theatre of the World in New York Times (mei 2016)

      ‘Theater of the World” is a lavish, bawdy, enthusiastically semi-coherent fantasia on early modern culture, but Mr. Andriessen has grown ever more expert as a technician.’ - Zachary Woolfe, New York Times

      Fri 18 Sep The Sunday Times - Andriessens' La Commedia (2008)

      Andriessens' score is a holiday of inventiveness and the distillation of a lifetime's creativity.