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Marian Vespers Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

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Religious symbolism in images and music

By Claudio Monteverdi

Language Latin

Surtitles English & Dutch

Monteverdi’s moving Marian Vespers are visualised by DNO director Pierre Audi, in an installation by the Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, in the monumental Gashouder in Amsterdam.

In short

Not only was Monteverdi the first important opera composer, but he also breathed new life into the religious music of his day. In his Marian Vespers, he combined the old, strict composition style with the modern, free way of setting words to music that led to the creation of music theatre.


De Nationale Opera heeft alle overgeleverde muziektheaterwerken van Claudio Monteverdi uitgevoerd, in veelgeprezen ensceneringen. Nu krijgen de kleurrijke Mariavespers, die zeer geschikt zijn voor een interpretatie met beelden, een visuele realisering. Musicoloog Denis Morrier noemt de Mariavespers: ‘Een prachtige boom. De wortels reiken diep in het rijke verleden, de brede, stevige stam roept de pracht en praal van een veelbewogen heden op en het weelderig gebladerte ontwikkelt zich in vruchtbare vertakkingen naar de toekomst toe.’

Claudio Monteverdi
Dutch National Opera has performed all the surviving music theatre works by Claudio Monteverdi in acclaimed productions. Now, the colourful Marian Vespers is being represented visually, for which it is excellently suited. Musicologist  Denis Morrier calls the Marian Vespers ‘...a wonderful tree. The roots reach deep into the rich past, the broad, strong trunk evokes the splendour of a turbulent present and the luxuriant foliage branches out fruitfully towards the future’.

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.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Musical director 
Raphaël Pichon
Pierre Audi
Berlinde De Bruyckere
Singers and instrumentalists 


As there is no ‘real’ storyline in Marian Vespers, director Pierre Audi chose for a ‘mise-en-espace’, rather than a ‘staging’ in the traditional sense. He is collaborating with artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, with whom he previously staged the opera Penthesilea in Brussels. Religious symbolism and mythology are important elements in De Bruyckere’s work.

Berlinde De Bruyckere (installation)
The Flemish artist De Bruyckere made her international breakthrough at the Venice Biennale in 2003. She makes three-dimensional sculptures, installations and watercolours. Her early work is minimalist and abstract in character, but later she seeks refuge in more recognisable forms. Religious symbolism and mythology form important elements in De Bruyckere’s oeuvre. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag organised a retrospective of her work in 2015.


The music of the Marian Vespers is performed by the historic instrumentalists and the singers of the young Baroque ensemble Pygmalion, led by Raphaël Pichon who, like Pygmalion, is making his first guest appearance with DNO.

Pygmalion was founded by Raphaël Pichon in 2006. The ensemble consists of a choir and orchestra, whose members play on historic instruments. Their repertoire includes the musical heritage of Bach to Mendelssohn, Schütz to Brahms, and Rameau to Gluck and Berlioz. Pygmalion has received various awards for CD recordings, including a Diapason d’or and a Victoire de la musique. The ensemble has performed in the most renowned concert halls of Europe. In 2017, the ensemble will be performing Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers, conducted by Raphaël Pichon.


    Wed 03 Feb OperaToday over de Monteverdi cyclus, 2007

    What Audi does, particularly with these very early works, is to achieve the near-impossible: he takes an audience back to a time before time to a place that might be no-place, but which communicates to us through visual textures and stage architecture that never confuses, always make sense.

    Wed 10 Feb

    ‘Audi creates mythical and magical productions, which emerge from silence and eternal darkness with sets and costumes that are timeless’. – NRC Handelsblad about the Monteverdi cycle, 2007