Dutch National Opera presents

Mefistofele Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)


A Devilish OPERA

Duration 3:00

By Arrigo Boito

Language Italian

Surtitles Dutch and English

The diabolical Mefistofele is an extraordinary opera calling for an extraordinary orchestra and large choruses. It’s an opera about God, the devil and man; about creation, love, misery and unquenchable yearning.

Is this God’s wish?

Not Faust, but the fallen angel Mephistopheles is the central figure in Arrigo Boito’s opera from 1875. He casts a critical eye on God’s creation, and what mankind has made of it? Mephistopheles pits himself against the ways of the world with diabolical audacity.

Composer Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)

The Italian composer Boito, best known for his work as librettist for Giuseppe Verdi, took the plunge with an opera that encompasses Goethe’s entire Faust tale. He spared no effort, calling for a brilliant orchestra and large choruses. A work that shows off the Chorus of Dutch National Opera – expanded with additional singers and a children’s choir – at its best.

    Thu 20 Feb De Volkskrant about Tsjarodejka, 2011

    'If a sorceress were at work in this opera, her name is Tatjana Gürbaca.' 

    Thu 20 Feb New York Times about bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as Mefistofele

    'Long may he reign in hell.'

    Thu 20 Feb NRC about the Chorus of Dutch National Opera in Pique Dame

    'brilliant, animated and virtuose'

    Thu 20 Feb Deutschlandfunk about the Chorus of Dutch National Opera in Chovansjtsjina

    'Like an organic mass, the choir sings of the complete range, from folklore through religious zeal to political hysteria.


New production: director Tatjana Gürbaca and designer Klaus Grünberg
Mefistofele marks the Dutch National Opera debut of Tatjana Gürbaca, a German stage director with Slovenian-Turkish roots. She and set designer Klaus Grünberg, whose striking theatrical scenes never fail to amaze, will conjure up the world of Mephistofele.

Musical director Marco Armilliato
Boito’s score betrays his fondness for Wagner and Verdi, and is on many an Italian conductor’s wish list. Including that of Marco Armilliato, a world-renowned specialist in 19th-century Italian repertory, who likewise makes his debut at Dutch National Opera.

The singers
The American tenor Charles Castronovo, the 2019 Opera Award’s ‘Singer of the Year’, makes his DNO debut in the role of Faust. The role of Mefistofele is sung by the American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn, a regular guest at the world’s major orchestras and opera houses. 

Opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue (1875)
Co-production with Opéra national de Paris

Arrigo Boito

Team, Cast and Chorus

Musical director
Marco Armiliato
Stage director
Tatjana Gürbaca
Klaus Grünberg
Anne Kuhn
Costume designer
Barbara Drosihn
Light designer
Klaus Grünberg
Luc Joosten
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam
Chorus master
Ching-Lien Wu
Christian Van Horn
Charles Castronovo
Olga Busuioc
Guanqun Yu

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra 
For more than 30 years, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra | Netherlands Chamber Orchestra has been the primary orchestral partner of Dutch National Opera. It is counted among the best opera orchestras of the world. In September 2021, Lorenzo Viotti will become chief conductor of both the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Dutch National Opera. The Netherlands Chambers Orchestra is under the inspiring leadership of violinist Gordan Nikolić.

In addition to this opera activities, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra both are regular players of The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The orchestras work with internationally renowned guest conductors and soloists, as well as with a new generation of excellent musicians. The orchestras make classical music accessible to everyone who is open to it. On countless adventurous and unexpected podiums, they bring people together through music and provide an excellent musical experience for advanced and new audiences alike. With its welcoming and open home, the NedPhO-Dome in the ‘Indische Buurt’ in Amsterdam, the orchestras are situated in the heart of the community.

In the 2020-2021 season, The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra will join us for Mefistofele, Aida, Der fliegende Holländer, Die lustige Witwe. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra will join us in the pit for Le nozze di Figaro and Anna Bolena.

Chorus of Dutch National Opera
The Chorus of Dutch National Opera consists of 50 singers and is regularly supplemented by freelance chorus members for major productions. The Chorus of Dutch National Opera already has many milestones to its name, including Saint François d’Assise, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Ercole amante, Boris Godunov, La Juive, Les Troyens, Eugene Onegin, Parsifal, Guillaume Tell, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, Faust, La forza del destino, Das Floß der Medusa, Oedipe and Tannhäuser, as well as concert performances of Der fliegende Holländer in Rotterdam, Paris and Dortmund and Daphnis et Chloé with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. 

Since 1 September, 2014 Ching-Lien Wu is artistic director of the Chorus of Dutch National Opera. Earlier in the 2019- 2020 season, the chorus gave stellar performances in Pagliacci / Cavalleria rusticana, Nabucco and Carmen. In 2016 the Chorus was awarded the title of ‘Best Opera Chorus’ by the authoritative magazine Opernwelt.

In the 2020-2021 season the Chorus will sing in Mefistofele, Le nozze di Figaro, Aida, Der fliegende Holländer, Die lustige Witwe, Anna Bolena and La damnation de Faust.

Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor
Dutch National Opera & Ballet maintains a close partnership with the Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor. The Amsterdam based children’s chorus is part of Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam, which provides classical singing training for children and adolescents aged 4 to 21 years. Dutch National Opera & Ballet and Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam collaborate on performances as well as on the training of children and adolescents in the field of opera.

In the 2020-2021 season, Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor will perform in the operas Mefistofele and La damnation de Faust, in the ballet Nutcracker and the Mouse King, at the Open House and at the Kinderkorenfestival.


Dutch National Opera & Ballet offers an introductory talk 45 minutes before each performance. An expert will share background information, context and interesting details that can give your theatre visit more depth. The talks are in Dutch and are free to all the ticket holders. You can also find an abridged version of the introduction on our website as a podcast.

Time: 45 minutes before the performance
Location: Odeonzaal; ground floor entrance