Central to OFF are three large-scale, daring performances that take us out of our comfort zone and in search of something new.

All OPERAS are available to anyone under 36 for just € 20, regardless of ticket categories. Category 6 seating is available from € 15!

Animal Farm


Music  Alexander Raskatov
Stage direction  Damiano Michieletto
A musical adaptation of a satirical fable. Animal Farm is a revolutionary opera based on George Orwell’s timeless novel about a revolution gone wrong. The dystopian setting and turmoil of shifting worldviews are translated into a new, extreme, tempestuous composition.

Perle Noire


Music  Tyshawn Sorey
Stage direction  Peter Sellars
An unprecedentedly popular artist, civil rights activist and 20th century resistance hero. Perle Noire delves into the life and tribulations of the icon Joséphine Baker from a modern perspective. The jazz-imbued compositions and improvisations offer a meditative reflection on her life.

Ändere die Welt! campagnebeeld


Music  Pedro Beriso
Stage direction  Mart van Berckel
Does change mean progress if history keeps repeating itself? We shout “Ändere die Welt!” (“Change the world!”), but how do we make that happen? Singers from the Dutch National Opera Studio and spoken-word artist Amara van der Elst lead the audience through this unique performance that weaves together existing, familiar music to create a powerful innovative collage.

OFF Labs visual


OFF challenges the makers of tomorrow to make opera their own. Students from various art schools take inspiration from the opera genre as well as from the ideas and skills of their peers. Experience their research and findings in different shapes and sizes during the festival: the LABS.


LABS: Performing Arts
Five short opera productions created by groups of student composers, directors, dramaturgs, scenographers, composers and production managers. As part of the LABS Performing Arts programme, these arts and culture students have set to work with the art form in their own unique way. They will present their productions, each lasting about 15 minutes, at Studio Boekman on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 March. Book your free ticket for one of the timeslots and watch all five performances in sequence.

In collaboration with:

  • Academy for Theatre and Dance (Amsterdam University of the Arts): Theatre Directing, Production and Stage Management, and Scenography courses
  • Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Amsterdam University of the Arts): Composition Department
  • Royal Conservatoire The Hague: Composition Department
  • Codarts Rotterdam: Composition Department
  • University of Amsterdam: Master's in Dramaturgy
  • Master Tailor Institute

LABS: Visual Arts
What happens when visual or audiovisual artists are inspired by opera? Master students from the Sandberg Institute (Gerrit Rietveld Academy) are creating a performance together that can be seen for free on the square in front of Dutch National Opera & Ballet on the evenings of Friday 3 and Saturday 4 March.

And that’s not all that’s happening in relation to the visual arts. Students from arts courses are making a documentary opera film that will be screened – with live music – at the Van Eesteren Museum in Amsterdam Nieuw-West on Wednesday 5 and Friday 10 March.

  • In collaboration with the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam Re:master Opera programme and the Royal Academy of Art The Hague: Non Linear Narratives department

LABS: Arts & Science
Students from various courses on arts policy and arts management together form a think tank, led by Mavis Carhillo. Joined by high-profile guests from the cultural sector, they explore ideas on the future of the arts. The final product will take the shape of a hackathon. (NB: LABS Arts & Science is not a public event.)

  • In collaboration with the Boekman Foundation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Maastricht University, University of Groningen and University of Amsterdam


What would the opera of the future look like if we were to break with convention, let go of unwritten rules and forget about our judgement and biases for a while? Contemporary art forms and popular culture must – and will – meld together into the opera of today. By taking a look at the as yet unknown, we focus on the possibilities of tomorrow. As far as OFF is concerned, it’s time to enter a new dimension – because that’s where we’ll find the opera of the future.


In SOUNDS we introduce you to a number of very different sound pioneers. Together they explore the places where spoken word and choral singing meet, the extent of the interface between jazz and opera, and what happens when opera compositions consist of noise, techno and post-punk electronics.

SOUNDS consists of five musical performances a day, which are free and can be visited at any time during the afternoon on Saturday 4 and Saturday 11 March.

See below for some of the SOUNDS - the full programme will be announced soon.


Inspired by hip-hop culture, neo-soul music and his Afro-Surinamese heritage, artist OTION organically blends song, spoken word, dance and live music with a strong emphasis on storytelling. During SOUNDS, he takes us by the hand and leads us through his fascinating fusion.

Dutch National Opera Studio
In addition to their representation in the performance Ändere die Welt!, the talented singers of the Dutch National Opera Studio will let their own SOUND be heard on more occasions. Listen to these opera stars and voices of the future on 4 March!

Right in the centre of Amsterdam – a stone’s throw from Dutch National Opera & Ballet – you’ll find Splendor: a club for all different kinds of music, founded by fifty top musicians and their audiences. Splendor is a meeting place, a clubhouse, a stage, a musical laboratory and much more. During OFF, the laboratory will be working overtime and Splendor will showcase its SOUND of the future.  


Spoken word x song: The power of words
Poetic narratives meet harmonic vocal lines and explore a shared future… we believe that spoken word and song have a collective power and during OFF, we delve into where that power can take us musically.

Reimagining Opera: Noise, tekno, post-punk and improv x opera
What does ‘opera’ mean in the 21st century? Progressive voice artist Stephanie Pan (of the previous OFF production I Have Missed You Forever) explores opera from the perspective of the underground club scene, experimental electronics and improv, together with a collective she has set up of leading creators from the experimental electronics, noise and free jazz scenes. Together they take an innovative, radical look at entrenched concepts, searching for their place in today’s opera world.

Alongside Stephanie Pan: Marc Alberto, Floris van Bergeijk, Lynn Cassiers, Ji Youn Kang, and Stelios Manousakis

‘Vrij Spel’ (Free Rein) x OFF
Every Saturday, De Muziekfabriek on NPO Radio 4 features a ‘Vrij Spel’ (Free Rein) section during which presenter Jet Berkhout challenges young musicians to breathe new life into classical pieces, by moving away from classical notes and towards their own personal sound. On Saturday 11 March, Jet Berkhout will be inviting musicians for a liveFree Rein at the Opera Forward Festival, amongst whom gambist Robert Smith and saxophonist Tom Sanderman.

Nastya Vogan & Albert van Abbe: ЛІСОВІ ПІСНІ live  
Лісові Пісні – translated as ‘forest songs’ – is a collaboration between Ukrainian electronic composer Nastya Vogan and Dutch DJ, producer and sound artist Albert van Abbe. Together with Ukrainian opera singer Maria Knygnitska, they create a composition for electronics, piano and a soprano voice, inspired by the mystery and beauty of Ukrainian mythology and folklore. By exploring these spaces of classical music and electronics, Лісові Пісні aims to musically reimagine the past and future of Ukrainian folklore.

OFF TALKS visual


Opera is a genre that can move as well as inspire movement. OFF breaks with the rules, traditions and mores of opera. We talk about the strength but also the painful blind spots, the power and responsibility of both the genre and the institute.


The TALKS will take place on the evenings of Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 March. They offer an insightful addition to your opera or festival visit, but are also relevant and engaging as stand-alone events. Both evenings are free of charge.



Art & Revolution
Oppression, inequality and an unprecedented climate crisis are just some of the issues our society is having to deal with. Art can offer comfort – or it can criticise. But how does it become more than a curated movement within the subsidised walls of art institutes? During this evening, we will discuss the relationship between art and activism: How can art bring about fundamental change, a revolution? And as a powerful collaborative art form, can opera then also unleash a powerful force?

More TALKS will be announced soon.

Aftermovie Opera Forward Festival

Trailer OFF

Programme OFF

Check out the timetable for the Opera Forward Festival 2023 by day, location, and time below. More information about the productions and programmes can be found by clicking on the blocks.

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