15-17 March 2024


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Studio Boekman

Running time

1:10, no interval



The Four Note Opera titelpagina

Dark satire about singers who have nothing to say

I always feel very uncomfortable in the Final Scene.
But what can we do?
That is the way the opera is written.
We have no control over such things.

Inspired by Luigi Pirandello’s meta-theatre, composer Tom Johnson wrote a piece for a group of singers who have only four notes at their disposal (A, B, D and E) and couldn’t sing about anything other than the opera they are now performing in. Of course, such is an impossible situation: the opera ends in utter rigidity.

Photo: Marta Syrko

Presentation by Dutch National Opera Studio

Fifty years ago, the Four Note Opera was a mocking reflection on opera norms. What about now? Is the play itself out of date, or is the criticism still relevant? How much influence do today’s singers have over the roles they play? And how much influence do opera directors have over their own creative process?

Director Kenza Koutchoukali goes into the rehearsal room for several weeks with five singers from the Dutch National Opera Studio. Based on the ultimate meaningless opera, they investigate the expressiveness of opera as an art form. They will present the result during the Opera Forward Festival in Studio Boekman.


Performance information

Libretto  Tom Johnson

Stage direction  Kenza Koutchoukali
Scenography and costume design  Yannick Verweij
Lighting design Coen van der Hoeven
Dramaturgy  Laura Roling, Wout van Tongeren
Musical direction  Alejandro Cantalapiedra 

Singers  members of Dutch National Opera Studio:
Soprano  Sophia Hunt
Alto  Martina Myskohlid
Tenor  Salvador Villanueva
Baritone  Georgiy Derbas-Richter
Bass  Mark Kurmanbayev
Pianist  Daniel Ruiz de Cenzano Caballero

Co-production with the Nederlandse Reisopera and Opera Zuid

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.

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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 The Four Note Opera and more at OFF!

The Four Note Opera - Quartet

The Four Note Opera
Scenes The Four Note Opera - DNO 2024 | Photos Bart Grietens
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4 note opera
4 note opera
4 note opera
4 note opera

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