Opera Forward Festival 2021

No less than 30,000 virtual visitors discovered what opera could also be during the four days of the festival. We hope you enjoyed it! Below we look back at the programme of OFF 2021. 

Aftermovie Opera Forward Festival

Trailer OFF
Seven Deadly Sins

OFF Night #1

Pride, greed, lust, jealousy, gluttony, anger and sloth. The first OFF Night was dedicated to the deadly sins. In addition, we reflect on the power and role of art.

Programme OFF Night #1

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, winner of the International Booker Prize 2020, opened the evening, which further reflects on the power and importance of art.


The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht is a razor-sharp piece of musical theatre that, in director Ola Mafaalani’s interpretation, explores new avenues. With Dutch star soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, actress Anna Drijver and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Erik Nielsen) in the spotlight. This performance can be watched via a one-time live stream, broadcast directly from our theatre.


Seven spoken word artists

Opera Forward asked seven spoken word artists to create short performances with the seven deadly sins as their starting point. Suehaylee, Stryder, Lev Avitan, Danny X Kuiper, Isis van Geffen, Manu van Kersbergen and Houda Bibouda delve into the seven deadly sins of today.


Live programme

We also presented a live programme, during which we talked to Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ola Mafaalani and Anna Drijver, among others.

Furthermore, during OFF Night #1 you could enjoy various musical performances and stimulating talks.

Studenten van de MBO theaterschool

OFF Night #2

OFF Night #2 was all about artistry and the exchange between established artists and young talents. How do artists deal with the disappearance of their live stage and the online possibilities that replace it? Where do they go from here? 

Programma OFF Night #2


Renowned Flemish theatre maker Gregory Caers has become an OFF fixture with his unexpected, surprising performances with students of the MBO Theaterschool Rotterdam. In this new creation – named after a coronavirus strain – he explores how cold, dark feelings of a single individual can infect an entire group.


OFF Talents

The makers of the future are currently being trained at conservatories, theatre schools and universities. OFF’s intensive collaboration with professional art education gives them the opportunity to work on new short operas.

This edition of OFF presented four OFF Stagings, for which artistic teams were inspired by operas from the early days of the genre, and two OFF Compositions, which emphasized the creation of a completely new opera.



OFF allows young makers to discover what it means to make opera and music theatre. To follow up on this first exploration and to help makers take new steps in their creative process, Dutch National Opera has launched OFFspring: unique new productions by makers who previously took part in OFF.


Live programme

We also presented various talks with those involved in OFF during a live programme.

Furthermore, during OFF Night #2 you could enjoy various musical performances and stimulating talks


OFF Night #3

OFF Night #3 was centered around technology, identity and change. in het teken van technologie, identiteit en verandering. What does a changing world mean for our sense of identity, and how does our sense of identity impact the world? 

Programme OFF Night #3

The steam engine, the Internet, the smartphone. Technological developments have radically changed our lives and the way we relate to others, and will continue to do so. The same goes for social movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQIA+ activism. What does the future hold? Where do we go from here? And what responsibility does the artist have?


Upload – preview

In his latest opera Upload, composer Michel van der Aa explores the impact of technological developments on our humanity, our identity and our relationships with others. Upload tells the story of a father and a daughter, with the father making the radical decision to have his mind uploaded to the cloud.

During OFF 2021 Upload was presented in the form of a preview. In season 2021/2022 zal Upload will have its world premiere at Dutch National Opera as a theatre performance.


Live programme

We also presented a live programme with panel discussions that focus on technology and identity, art and identity, and change and identity.

Furthermore, during OFF Night #3 you could enjoy various musical performances and stimulating talks. 

Een lied voor de maan


OFF closed with a Sunday afternoon for all generations, which was centered around the themes singing, dreaming and celebrating. We also celebrated the fifth anniversary of OFF. 

Programme OFF Day

A song for the moon

For our youngest audience we presented Een lied voor de maan (A Song for the Moon) by Mathilde Wantenaar, a composer who took part in the first edition of OFF in 2016 as a student and now returns with her first full-length opera. In Een lied voor de maan, Mathilde Wantenaar brings the imaginative animal world of writer Toon Tellegen to life. 

In season 2021/2022 Een lied voor de maan returns to Dutch National Opera and will have its offline world premiere. 

Spoken word performances about The Seven Deadly sins