John van Halteren
Photo: Jan Willem Kaldenbach

John van Halteren


For John van Halteren a storm in October 1988 marked a visionary entrance to Dutch National Opera. He walked past the opera house with a student friend, looked resolutely inside and said: "This is where I will come to work!” Just as a storm is invisible but palpable, so was this inner image of and for him visibly invisible.

Seven years later, Moses und Aron and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg were the first productions of DNO in which John participated. For him, ensemble singing is a deliberate choice. He loves being able to create varied music in connection with the rest of the DNO Chorus. Rêves d'un Marco Polo by Claude Vivier, in which John participated in June 2004, is for him unsurpassed and immanent. To him, this production is like a diamond - rough, unpolished and so intense - and is engraved in his memory like a homecoming to himself.

John describes himself as a priest in the music temple at the Waterlooplein, a desperate human being who is grateful to beauty, (dis)harmony, art and culture; to ourselves.

What do we need to see it - should we polish the mirror that is ourselves, so that it can be reflected, or should we look with open eyes at the mirror, so that we see it reflected in ourselves?

(Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)