9-24 Mar 2024


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

1:40, no interval



Oedipus Rex / Antigone

Two classical tragedies

Ambitious works for chorus, vocal soloists and dancers

This double bill — Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (1927) and Samy Moussa’s Antigone (2020) — centres on the tragic collision between the political and the personal. In this new production, stage director Mart van Berckel and director-choreographer Nanine Linning bring together the worlds of classical tragedy and of twentieth- and twenty-first-century music in a unique theatrical experience. 

Photo: Marta Syrko

Two classical tragedies

In Oedipus Rex, Stravinsky’s imposing opera-oratorio in Latin, the city of Thebes is afflicted by a pestilence. The only way to end the plague is to find and punish the old king’s murderer. Tensions mount ever higher between the people of the city and their leaders. Moussa’s Antigone, sung in Greek, deals with the tragedy of Oedipus’s daughter. Out of a sense of moral obligation, she breaks the law introduced by King Creon, but her decision does not go unpunished.


World premiere

While Stravinsky’s opera assigns a key role to the male chorus, the Canadian composer Samy Moussa foregrounds the female chorus in his new composition. Moussa’s lively, colourful sound worlds have previously been performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker and the London Symphony Orchestra, among others. The conductor Erik Nielsen, a specialist in the modern and contemporary repertoire, is in charge of premiering Moussa’s first major vocal composition. He will be conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, a return to the orchestra with which he previously premiered Manfred Trojahn’s Eurydice – Die Liebenden, blind. 


Mart van Berckel and Nanine Linning

Mart van Berckel (who previously directed the provocative production Ändere die Welt at DNO) and Nanine Linning (both a choreographer and opera director, in her debut at DNO and DNB) were able to take charge of the stage direction for this project at short notice. Working in tandem, they have created a theatrical experience that takes the political and social predicaments of the ancient city of Thebes as its central theme. 

Mart van Berckel is responsible for the male chorus and vocal soloists in the impressive Oedipus Rex while Nanine Linning has developed a vivid theatrical idiom for Antigone in partnership with the female chorus and dancers of Dutch National Ballet. They are working with an outstanding cast of performers, including mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly (Jocasta), tenor Sean Panikkar (Oedipus) and dancer Qian Liu, a principal dancer at Dutch National Ballet. 

Performance information

Musical direction  Erik Nielsen
Stage direction of Oedipus Rex  Mart van Berckel
Stage direction and choreography of Antigone  Nanine Linning
Lighting design  Cor van den Brink
Dramaturgy  Luc Joosten, Laura Roling

Set and costume design  With the special permission of Vicki Mortimer, elements of the original design for Wayne McGregror's production of Jocasta's Line are used

Oedipus Rex
Sung in Latin

Libretto Jean Cocteau, based on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
Composition  Igor Stravinsky

Oedipus  Sean Panikkar
Jocasta  Dame Sarah Connolly
Creon  Bastiaan Everink
Tiresias  Rafał Siwek
Le Berger  Linard Vrielink
Le Messager   Frederik Bergman
Speaker  Nazmiye Oral 

Sung in Ancient Greek, composed for women’s chorus and orchestra

Composition  Samy Moussa

Antigone  Qian Liu / Nicola Jones
Polynices  Dingkai Bai / Rémy Catalan
Eteocles  Fabio Rinieri / Sven de Wilde
Eurydice  Sandra Quintyn / Antonina Tchirpanlieva
Haemon  Sander Baaij / Gabriel Rajah
Creon  Bastiaan Everink
Tiresias  Rafał Siwek

Samy Moussa in collaboration with Niall Potter; based on texts by Aeschylus, Apollodorus, Empedocles, Euripides, Philostratus the Elder and Sophocles

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Chorus master  Edward Ananian-Cooper

Composition commission and co-production with Norwegian National Opera & Ballet (Oslo).
Antigone: Co-commission with Festival de Lanaudière (Canada).

Online programme

Along with the printed programme book, we also offer online programme information for this performance. The online programme will take you behind the scenes with in-depth stories, articles, and interviews with the creators and cast.

OFF Logo

Opera Forward Festival

Inspiring, challenging and innovative. Immerse yourself in the 8th edition of the Opera Forward Festival (OFF) from 8 to 17 March. With musical performances by both established names and a new generation of creatives, OFF embraces innovation and ventures into uncharted territory with inventive and pioneering music theatre shows. Discover Oedipus Rex / Antigone and more at OFF!

Oedipus Rex
Scenes Oedipus Rex - DNO 2024 | Photos: Bart Grietens
Nazmiye Oral - de verteller
Scènebeeld Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex
 Sean Panikkar - Oedipus
Scenes Antigone - DNO 2024 | Photos: Bart Grietens

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra have been the main orchestral partners of Dutch National Opera for over thirty years. They are regarded as among the best opera orchestras in the world. The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is the main regular stage for their concerts.

Photo: Melle Meivogel

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

In addition to the programmes with chief conductor Lorenzo Viotti and Gordan Nicolić (musical leader of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra), the orchestras collaborate with both internationally acclaimed guest conductors and soloists and top-class musicians from the up-and-coming generation. The orchestras perform at numerous venues, bringing people together through their music and giving both classical music aficionados and new audiences the perfect musical experience. With their welcoming home base in the NedPhO Dome in Amsterdam’s Indische Buurt neighbourhood, the two orchestras are at  the heart of the community and aim to make classical music accessible to everyone who shows an interest.

In the 2023-2024 season, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing the operas Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Lohengrin, Il trittico and Oedipus Rex / Antigone.The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra can be heard in Die Zauberflöte and Roberto Devereux


... directors Mart van Berckel (Oedipus Rex) and Nanine Linning (Antigone) have wisely stuck to the basics, and to stunning effect, deftly drawing together the threads of these two Theban tragedies with eloquent, disciplined choral work and powerful choreography, as they untangle the roots of a timeless conflict.

10 March

The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, under conductor Erik Nielsen, plays Stravinksy's music with power and nuance. The men of the opera chorus sing and move beautifully in dark suits. The story of Oedipus (American tenor Sean Panikkar) and Jocasta (Dame Sarah Connnolly), who struggle to discover the truth about themselves, is exciting and gripping. 

11 March

*** Oedipus Rex/****Antigone
Linning created a brief but wonderful choreography for Antigone, explicitly involving the fantastically singing women of the Dutch National Opera Chorus. The frail Qian Liu portrayed the despair of Antigone, who is not allowed to bury her fallen brother, with great conviction.

10 March

*** Oedipus Rex/****Antigone
Moussa composed a compelling composition, starting ferociously and descending through sharp edges of abrasive strings along vibrating metal to the smell of crypts. [...] And the five ballet dancers move subtly effectively.

11 March

But the starring role is played by Qian Liu, principal with the Dutch National Ballet. Soloing on one of the calmer parts of the composition, the dancer beautifully expresses Antigone's inner conflict [...].

11 March
men's chorus
Rehearsal Oedipus Rex - DNO 2024 | Photos: Milagro Elstak
Mart van Berckel
Director Mart van Berckel
men's chorus
Oedipus Rex
rehearsal Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex
Oedipus  - Sean Panikkar
Oedipus - Sean Panikkar
Antigone -  Qian Liu - women's chorus
Rehearsal Antigone - HNB/DNO 2024 | Photos: Altin Kaftira
women's chorus
Nanine Linning with women's chorus
Nanine Linning

Podcast Oedipus Rex / Antigone

By: Laura Roling

Opera Forward Festival is made possible by