On our way to a 50 years celebration

These changes however are of course not really a change for the companies when it comes to artistic policy. The 2014-2015 season of Dutch National Opera continues the successful mix of rethinking operatic classics, rediscovering operatic rarities, opening up new perspectives on 20th century masterpieces, and revisiting Monteverdi and Händel.

Opera companies throughout the world have come to be identified with a city and a building. Although Dutch National Opera is relatively young, its sense of connection to the city of Amsterdam, and to its home on the Amstel, is by now an essential feature of the cultural heritage of this country. Continuity and the gift of time are rewarded by a sense of depth, and a sense of enrichment generated by experience. This fact highlights the role of such an institution as a beacon in the city, as a meeting place for creative production teams of makers whose role it is to surprise, challenge and celebrate the relevance of opera with quality and style.

The season opens with the first staged production of Arnold Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder. This work, which sits at the crossroads of the 19th and 20th centuries, conjures up the worlds of Wagner and Mahler, and points ahead to Alban Berg, whose opera Lulu we will present in its completed 3-act version at the end of the season. Two festive and satirical comedies will hopefully enlighten our mostly dramatic repertoire: Chabrier’s L’étoile and Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims. With new productions of Puccini’s La bohème and Verdi’s Macbeth, we will start a new series with works by these two beloved Italian composers. The French repertoire will be represented by Benvenuto Cellini, a comedy about a great utopiam artist, made by a great utopian composer: Hector Berlioz. The early repertoire will reach its followers with a new Orfeo and revivals of Händel’s Alcina and Tamerlano in the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. No season is complete without Wagner and Mozart. After the highly successful production of Die Zauberflöte from 2012, directed by Simon McBurney – one of the most inventive theatre makers of our time – we have decided to bring this production back as soon as possible. Wagner’s Lohengrin, produced here a decade ago with impressive sets by the sculptor Jannis Kounellis, will also be revived.

A mix of acclaimed directors, together with names new to the Amsterdam public, guarantees an interesting and inspiring list of productions and styles. Gurre-Lieder will be my first collaboration with chief conductor Marc Albrecht, who will conduct four operas in total this season. As one of Europe’s foremost choreographers, Sasha Waltz will direct the new production of Orfeo with Pablo Heras-Casado leading the Freiburger Barockorchester. Christophe Rousset will return to Amsterdam to again conduct his ensemble Les Talens Lyriques in the two Händel operas, which originally were created for the Swedish Slottsteater Drottningholm. Laurent Pelly, master of comedy, will come back for L’étoile conducted by Patrick Fournillier whilst director Andrea Breth will, following her successful production of The Gambler, continue her collaboration with Marc Albrecht on Macbeth, Verdi’s early masterpiece which evokes the melancholy of political desperation and the death of love. Working with Dutch National Opera for the first time are the young Australian director Benedict Andrews (La bohème) and Damiano Michieletto (Il viaggio a Reims). Also Terry Gilliam, the famous film director whose extraordinary imagination combines with a passion for Benvenuto Cellini, promises a spectacular encounter with the rich and colourful music of Berlioz. To close the season, Dutch National Opera will be working for the first time with one of the world’s most important visual artists, William Kentridge. Together with conductor Fabio Luisi, and in a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera of New York, he will direct Lulu as his third opera. Using collage, cinematography, animation, and printing techniques, Kentridge will create a special universe in which music, text and image merge and the story can unfold to its tragic but inevitable end.

In addition to these productions, Dutch National Opera is increasingly working at expanding its potential in developing new talent, collaborating with a multitude of cultural partners, and expanding its media opportunities as much as possible.

We look forward to the essential support and involvement of our audience who share with us the credit for where we stand today. We hope our friends will help us make new friends. Join us once more for this historic first season as Dutch National Opera, on another journey through the amazing dimensions of opera as total music-theatre!

Pierre Audi, director of Dutch National Opera