16-21 Mar 2024


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

1:30, no interval



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.

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.

Performance information

Sung in English

Music  Ellen Reid
Libretto  Roxie Perkins; based on the play De zaak Shell by Anoek Nuyens, Rebekka de Wit, Frascati Producties and De Nwe Tijd

Musical direction and co-creation  Manoj Kamps
Stage direction, concept and co-adaptation  Gable Roelofsen and Romy Roelofsen (Het Geluid)
Set design  Davy van Gerven
Costume design  Greta Goiris and Flora Kruppa
Lighting design  Jean Kalman
Video design  Wies Hermans
Choreography  Winston Ricardo Arnon
Movement director ‘Elders’  Nita Liem
Dramaturgy  Willem Bruls, Saar Vandenberghe, Jasmijn van Wijnen

The Government  Claire Barnett-Jones
The Consumer  Anthony León
The Law / The Artist  Lauren Michelle   
The CEO  Audun Iversen             
The Activist  Ella Taylor       
The Climate refugee  Carla Nahadi Babelegoto      
The Historian  Jasmin White 
The Weatherman  Erik Slik            
The Elementary School Teacher  Nikki Treurniet
The Pilot  Alexander de Jong
The Fossil Fuel Laborer  Allen Michael Jones
The Field Worker  Yannis François

Nita Liem
Ingrid Coleridge
Claudia Tjon Soei Len
Twie Tjoa
Francisca Tan
Raymonde Roebana
Beppy Milder
Patrick Altenberg
William Mettendaf
Linda Grootfaam
Anna Azijnman
Anneroos Burger

Children's chorus
Watermusic Kinderkoor (Muziekschool Waterland), Noord-Hollands selectiekoor, The Shell trial project chorus, B! Music school en Leerorkest Zuidoost

The members of the The Shell trial project chorus have been selected from different schools in Zuidoost, Noord, Nieuw-West and Almere. All these children are part of a participation project led by Het Geluid.

Academists and members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

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

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.

Based on the prizewinning play 

De zaak Shell

the artist
Scenes from The Shell Trial - DNO 2024 | Photos: Marco Borggreve
the government
the consumer
The Shell Trial
The Shell Trial
The Shell Trial - papierregen

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.

the shell trial

How to make an opera as sustainable as possible?

The Shell Trial : a brand-new opera with 82 costumes, unique props, and dazzling special effects – but produced as sustainably as possible. How do you achieve that? 

Behind the scenes - The Shell Trial

BTS 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

Teaser - The Shell trial

Kind aan een rommelige tafel
Ensemble tijdens een repetitie van The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Manoj Kamps en Romy Roelofsen
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Ensemble Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Manoj Kamps
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Repetitie The Shell Trial
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel
Gable Roelofsen en Romy Roelofsen
Rehearsal The Shell Trial | Photo: Melle Meivogel

Podcast - Making an Opera: hoe doen we dat groen?

The climate crisis is causing fast global change. Can the world of opera change along with it? In this six-part (Dutch) podcast series from NPO Klassiek / NTR, Stef Visjager goes behind the scenes at Dutch National Opera, which aims to create a climate-neutral opera about the lawsuit against Shell called The Shell Trial. It quickly becomes clear that this is not a simple task. Which weighs more heavily: sustainability or artistic freedom?

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 The Shell Trial and more at OFF!

Opera Forward Festival is made possible by

The Shell Trial was made possible in part by

Nominee of the FEDORA Opera Prize 2022 & Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union

Contribute to this Green Deal production

Contribute to this Green Deal production

We are making this performance as sustainable as possible 

We believe it is important to be sustainable when creating art so that future generations too can continue to enjoy the magic on our stage. That is why we are looking at how we can make our productions more sustainable. Among other things, this has resulted in our own Green Deal – a guideline for how to reduce the environmental impact of productions.

This production was created in accordance with the Green Deal as one of the first in a series. We are learning all we can from our experiences, and this will help us adapt our approach next season.

To offset the unavoidable emissions resulting from this performance, Dutch National Opera & Ballet is partnering with Trees For All, a charity recognised by the Netherlands Fundraising Regulator. Trees For All plants trees in the Netherlands and abroad for a better climate, more biodiversity and a healthier living environment.  

Audiences attending this performance are being offered the opportunity to make an extra contribution to two forest sustainability projects: new loam-soil woodland in the Groene Woud nature area in Brabant (Netherlands) and the restoration of the tropical rainforest and habitat of the orang-utan in Borneo.


Help the planet keep its forests

You too can contribute to these forest sustainability projects. If you buy tickets online for The Shell Trial, you will get the option during the payment process to add an extra amount. Your contribution goes directly to Trees For All.