16-21 Mar 2024


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time



From € 16

The Shell Trial

A crisis of responsibility

In 2021, a Dutch court ruled that Shell was legally responsible for its contribution to climate change. In The Shell Trial, the various voices in the climate debate are heard and it becomes increasingly clear that we will not make any progress by endlessly pointing the finger at one another. The message of this topical opera is that the climate crisis is above all a crisis of responsibility. 

Photo: Marta Syrko

A crisis of responsibility

The Shell Trial is based on the play De zaak Shell by Rebekka de Wit and Anoek Nuyens, which premiered in 2020 and caused a stir on the Dutch and international stage. Presenting a range of voices and perspectives in the climate crisis, the complexity of the case becomes increasingly clear during the opera. The boundaries between guilty party and innocent victim, between good and bad, and individual and collective responsibility become blurred as more and more viewpoints are expressed.


Collective and sustainable

In The Shell Trial, DNO will be partnering for the first time with the Maastricht opera and theatre platform Het Geluid Maastricht. Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Ellen Reid, who will be artist in residence at the Royal Concertgebouw and Orchestra in 2024, is composing the music for Roxie Perkins’ libretto based on the original play. The opera is a collective production, an approach that musical director and co-creator Manoj Kamps is familiar with after FAUST [working title] and I have missed you forever. The multi-faceted classical singer Julia Bullock, who is known for her social engagement, is another of the co-creators, as well as a performer, in the production. 

Dutch National Opera also aims to practice what it preaches by making the production as sustainable as possible. The objective is to learn valuable lessons from this pilot project that can be incorporated for future productions.

Start of ticket sales

General ticket sales for The Shell Trial start on 24 August 2023 at 12.00 midday. Want to make sure you don’t miss this moment? Then sign up for the ticket alert, and we’ll send you a reminder as soon as ticket sales begin.

Based on the prizewinning play 
De zaak Shell

Performance information

Sung in English

Libretto  Roxie Perkins; based on the play De zaak Shell by Anoek Nuyens and Rebekka de Wit

Musical direction and co-creation  Manoj Kamps
Stage direction, concept and co-adaptation  Gable Roelofsen and Romy Roelofsen
Set design  Davy van Gerven
Lighting design  Jean Kalman
Dramaturgy  Willem Bruls, Saar Vandenberghe, Jasmijn van Wijnen

The Law/The Artist  Julia Bullock
The Government  Claire Barnett-Jones 
The CEO  Audun Iversen
The Consumer  Anthony Leon

Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor (part of Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam)
Children's choir conductor  Anaïs de la Morandais

Academists and members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Commission by Dutch National Opera, in co-production with Het Geluid (Maastricht), Opera Philadelphia and Bregenz Festival

The lawsuit against Shell

The case against Shell was won by the environmental organisation Milieudefensie and supporting individuals in 2021. Shell lodged an appeal against the ruling, which will be heard in court in 2024 – the same year as the world premiere of The Shell Trial.


Order tickets

General ticket sales start on 24 August 2023 at 12.00 midday.

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The Shell Trial
Photo: Erin Baiano

Composer Ellen Reid on The Shell Trial

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the world’s top orchestras. Since it was founded in 1888, it has worked with leading conductors and soloists. Klaus Mäkelä is the orchestra’s artistic partner and will become its chief conductor in 2027. The orchestra plays around eighty concerts a year in the Concertgebouw and forty in other prestigious venues. It also reaches music lovers around the world with its videos, streaming, radio and TV broadcasts, CDs and DVDs.

Photo: Simon van Boxtel

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Academy of the Concertgebouw Orchestra trains talented young musicians, while accomplished musicians aged 14 to 17 from all over Europe come together in Concertgebouworkest Young. The orchestra has a long tradition of collaboration with Dutch National Opera and can be heard this season in the new production The Shell Trial and in Fidelio

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