Dutch National Opera presents

Black Achievement Month "The lands in which I live, burst out in archipelagos "

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Artists look for their ‘routes’ in contemporary opera and music theater

Language mainly english

Stream | Sunday 25 October at 18:00

On Sunday 25 October, it is World Opera Day. To celebrate this, we share the recording of the Black Achievement Month program of Dutch National Opera, which took place on 11 October. The stream will appear below and on our YoutTube channel on Sunday 25 October at 18:00. Tune in!

The title of this evening - The lands in which I live burst into archipellagos - is a quotation from the work of the Caribbean philosopher Edouard Glissant (1928-2011). In this panel discussion, we get inspired by his work. The central question is: How do opera and musical theater in Europe relate to the colonial and colonialized others?

Find the full program here

Archipelago thinking

In his answer to the question who we are, Edouard Glissant does not refer to how we are rooted in or bound to a country. He uses the image of an identity that flows and moves in the water. Like islands that together form an archipelago. His philosophy radically questions the parochial and provincial opinions about identity. But he is equally aware that the violent history of colonialism, of slavery and exploitation, has crucially influenced the relations between people.

Inspired by Glissant’s ‘archipelo thinking’, we ask ourselves in this panel discussion how opera and musical theater in Europe relate to the colonial and colonialized others. We ask theater makers and artists how they deal with this. With this, we are not so much looking for their ‘roots’, but more for their cultural ‘routes’. We want to know how they work and how they feel connected by their culture and are inspired through it. With this, also the challenges and dilemmas in their handling of the European musical theater will definitely be discussed.


Sruti Bala - moderator of the evening

Panelists a.o.

Gavin-Viano - director, performer en choreographer
Anthony Heidweiller - opera maker and baritone
Djuwa Mroivili - pianist
Manoj Kamps - conductor, maker and composer (subject to change)
Neo Muyanga - composer, musician en librettist (via video)
Katia Ledoux - mezzo-soprano (via video)


With music by Nienke Nasserian
Percussion Demos Horn 
Piano Ben van Daal

Sruti Bala | Moderator

Sruti Bala is an associate professor of Theatre Science at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests range from areas such as participation and community art to artistic activism and feminist and postcolonial theories in theater.






Gavin-Viano | director, performer and choreographer

Gavin-Viano graduated as a director from the Toneelacademie Maastricht in the summer of 2020. For his graduation performance 'Ach Mijn Wederhelft' he recently received the DNA Next Stimuleringsprijs. Gavin-Viano stages art productions with social urgency. His work falls under grass roots initiatives; he tackles certain themes and problems that are of great importance in his community. The aim is to create change, insight and/or recognition. Making Dutch theatre accessible to his community is also his mission. He creates for young and old, but specifically for people like him. People who never got a voice in the theatre landscape, people who didn't feel welcome in the cultural sector and people who didn't see themselves in any form in stories from the Western culture. Photo: Ruben Duipmans

Anthony Heidweiller | Opera creator and baritone

Anthony Heidweiller connects opera with the sounds and themes of our time. Migration, (in)equality and the preservation of the earth are recurring themes in his work. His projects are a form of practice-based research into the opera of the 21st century and the bridge between the arts and society. Heidweiller also seeks the connection with education at all levels, such as the Amsterdam School of the Arts, scientists and VMBO education. Photo: Jelmer de Haas

Djuwa Mroivili | Pianist

DJUWA MROIVILI | PIANIST Djuwa Mroivili was coached by piano teachers such as Caspar Vos and Meline Yeghoyan at the conservatory, and is currently studying in the final phase of her Bachelor of Classical Music at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Zwolle with Frank van de Laar. In her music practice Djuwa Mroivili is looking for ways to dismantle systems that maintain an exclusive classical music tradition. Education can play an important role in designing a new, inclusive music tradition. For this reason, Mroivili has been setting up a unit that is committed throughout ArtEZ to education in which inclusion and diversity are central. Photo: Mona van den Berg

Neo Muyanga | Composer, musician and librettist

Neo Muyanga (composer, musician, librettist) was born in Soweto. Neo writes music pieces for chamber and large ensemble and choral songs. His operetta, The Flower of Shembe (2012) received rave reviews. In addition, he tours as a soloist and as a band member in various formations. In 2008, Neo co-founded the Pan African Space Station, a radio station that serves as an evolving host of cutting-edge Pan-African music and sound art on the internet and on stages in Cape-Town and other parts of the world. In 2019, Neo was a guest at the Opera Forward Festival. Photo: Artscape theatre

Manoj Kamps | Conductor, theatre maker and composer

Musical director & co-creation

Manoj Kamps is a Dutch-Sri Lankan queer conductor, theatre maker and composer, specialized in a wide range of repertoire, ranging from baroque to cutting-edge contemporary music.

Katia Ledoux | mezzo-soprano

Katia Ledoux was born in Paris but moved to Austria as a child. In 2008, she received the first prize at the Austrian Prima la Musica competition for young singers and has since been awarded many prizes in international singing competitions, most notably the Dutch Press Prize of the 2018 International Vocal Competition in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Currently, Katia Ledoux is a member of the opera studio at the Zurich Opera House. In 2019 the young mezzo-soprano made her début at the DNO as Geneviève in "Pelléas et Mélisande" and she will be back this season as Mary in "Der fliegende Holländer"."

J'Nai Bridges

The American mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and The Manhattan School of Music. After graduating, she continued her development at the Ryan Opera Center of The Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since then her star has been rising internationally, partly because of her "rich, dark, exciting sound". In 2019 she sang the role of Josefa Segovia in Girls of the Golden West at DNO

Message from Katia Ledoux
Katia Ledoux sent us a video giving her younger self seven tips on how to stay sane in the opera industry as a black opera singer.






Nienke Nasserian Nillesen | Soprano and classical music theatre maker

Soprano and classical music theatre maker Nienke Nasserian Nillesen graduated cum laude from the 'Master of Music' Muziektheater klassiek from the Fontys Conservatorium in Tilburg in 2018. With her performance MASAI, directed by Naomi van der Linden, she won the Entreeprijs at Theater Festival Boulevard in August 2016. In addition, Nienke Nasserian regularly sings as a soloist at concerts with various (symphony) orchestras, ensembles and choirs. She performs a wide range of classical repertoire.




Black Achievement Month

The Black Achievement Month introduces the Netherlands to the ‘black’ history of the Netherlands, through exhibitions, debates, theatre, film and dance. Stories are told about slavery and its legacy, while also looking to the future. The Black Achievement Month thus provides a platform for black role models and their special achievements, such as star ballerina Michaela DePrince. NiNsee (Nationaal Instituut Nederlands Slavernijverleden en Erfenis) is the initiator of the project Black Achievement Month (BAM), which is based on the Black History Month. Through BAM, NiNsee aims not only to look at the past, but also to focus on the present and the future.

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