3-16 Mar 2023


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

2:25, incl. 1 interval



OFF campagnebeeld

Orwell’s masterpiece transformed into a revolutionary opera

A group of animals stages a rebellion on a dilapidated farm to free themselves from a tyrannical farmer, only to be subjugated to a new despot from their own ranks. A must-see world premiere: Orwell’s timeless classic about a fight for freedom doomed to failure.

This performance is part of Opera Forward Festival

Orwell’s masterpiece transformed into a revolutionary opera

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm as a contemporaneous cautionary parable, highlighting how easy it was for the Russian revolution to degenerate into Stalin’s violent dictatorship. The warning in Orwell’s political satire remains relevant today. “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” – the world news keeps offering up subtle variations on the same theme.


A dream project

Damiano Michieletto had always dreamt of adapting Animal Farm, with its powerful characterisations and surprising twists and turns, for the opera stage. In Alexander Raskatov, the perfect composer for his dream project was found.

Raskatov himself is no stranger to adapting fiction to opera. In 2010, he adapted the literary masterpiece A Dog’s Heart, creating a compelling and fiery musical piece that was unlike any other. In Animal Farm, Raskatov also incorporates his own allusions to Russia’s fraught political history.

This staging of Animal Farm will see Dutch tenor Marcel Beekman and contralto Helena Rasker return to the stage of Dutch National Opera, as well as baritone Misha Kiria (Il barbiere di Siviglia, 2018), who is an ideal fit for the grim-comic role of Napoleon – the autocratic pig. They are joined in the pit by the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of up-and-coming Lebanese-Polish conductor Bassem Akiki, who has achieved international acclaim with his interpretations of both the classical repertoire as well as contemporary operas.

Performance information

Opera in two acts, nine scenes and an epilogue
Sung in English

Composition  Alexander Raskatov
Libretto  Ian Burton and Alexander Raskatov

Musical direction  Bassem Akiki
Stage direction  Damiano Michieletto
Set  Paolo Fantin
Costumes  Klaus Bruns
Lighting  Alessandro Carletti
Choreography  Thomas Wilhelm
Dramaturgy  Wout van Tongeren, Luc Joosten

Old Major  Gennady Bezzubenkov
Napoleon  Misha Kiria
Snowball  Michael Gniffke
Squealer  James Kryshak
Boxer  Germán Olvera
Benjamin  Karl Laquit
Minimus  Artem Krutko
Clover  Helena Rasker
Muriel  Maya Gour*
Blacky  Elena Vassilieva
Mollie  Holly Flack
Pigetta (young actress)  Karl Laquit
Mr. Jones  Marcel Beekman
Mrs. Jones  Francis van Broekhuizen
Mr. Pilkington  Frederik Bergman
2 men of Mr. Jones  Alexander de Jong, Joris van Baar
2 men of Mr. Pilkington Mark Kurmanbayev, Michiel Nonhebel
2 men from veterinary car Alexander de Jong, Mark Kurmanbayev

*Dutch National Opera Studio

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra

Chorus of Dutch National Opera
6 sopranos, 6 mezzo-sopranos, 6 tenors, 6 basses
Chorus master  Edward Ananian-Cooper

New Amsterdam Youth Choir (part of Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam)
8 sopranos, 8 altos
Youth chorus master  Anaïs de la Morandais

Composition and co-production by Dutch National Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro Massimo (Palermo), and the Finnish National Opera and Ballet (Helsinki)

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.

Animal Farm
Animal Farm
Music Animal Farm
Animal Farm teaser
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Animal Farm
Scene Animal Farm | Photo: Ruth Walz
Nederlands Kamerorkest

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra

Dutch National Opera has a long-standing and proud history with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra | the Nether­lands Chamber Orchestra, which has been its main orchestra partner for the past 30 years. It is widely considered to be one of the best opera orchestras in the world.

© Anna van Kooij

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra

Naturally, it also performs in concerts of its own and then its go-to venue is the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In addition to its collabo­ration with chief conductor Lorenzo Viotti and music director of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra Gordan Nikolić, the orchestra regularly works with internationally renowned guest conductors and soloists, as well as a whole new generation of excellent musicians. It has played on countless stages, using music to connect people by giving exceptional performances that inspire both connoisseurs and novices alike. The orches­tra's base is in the warm and welcoming NedPhO-Dome in the ‘lndische Buurt’ in Amsterdam, ensuring it is at the heart of the community. In this way, the orchestra hopes to make classical music more approachable to a wider audience.

Season 2022/23 will see the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra join us for our season-opener Carmen, as well as for Königs­kinder, Turandot and Der Rosenkavalier. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra will provide the orchestral accompani­ment for Animal Farm and Maria Stuarda.

in the media
Rave reviews

Animal Farm is an impressive, fierce indictment of inhumanity. You will leave the auditorium on shaky legs. 

6 March

Truly everything was right about this black and crazy opera.

4 March

Animal Farm, composer Alexander Raskatov's new opera, is gripping from the first notes, sometimes unbearably oppressive.

5 March

It is clever how direction and music slowly but compellingly work towards the disenchantment of all beautiful ideals [...]. 

4 March

Podcast - Animal Farm

Teaser - Animal Farm

Teaser - Animal Farm

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