Aftermovie OFF 2023

Aftermovie OFF 2023
OFF Sounds visual


From classical singing to jazz, techno, spoken word and noise – the Opera Forward Festival presents performances by artists working in a variety of disciplines. What they share with opera is their narrative approach to storytelling. You can hear SOUNDS at every performance at Dutch National Opera & Ballet; on 4 and 11 March, the afternoon programme is free.



Opera Studio x OFF
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
14.00 – 14.45

Opera has the power to touch the soul directly. The young singers of Dutch National Opera Studio therefore perform music that has special meaning for them in a 'lecture recital'. Featuring tenor Ian Castro, sopranos Elenora Hu and Sílvia Sequeira, baritone Georgiy Derbas-Richter, countertenor Jake Ingbar and pianist Amy Chang.

Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
15.00 – 15.45

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.

Tyshawn Sorey X ICE
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
16.00 – 16.45 

American composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey has a background in jazz and a love of improvisation – he previously performed at the Dutch North Sea Jazz Festival. Within the festival, he not only presents the production Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, but also treats us to a jam session with musicians from the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in the foyer.

The ‘Jonge Honden’ of Splendor
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
17.00 – 17.45

A stone's throw from Dutch National Opera & Ballet is Splendor, a clubhouse, platform and laboratory for musicians full of creative ideas. Within Splendor, an important place is reserved for their ‘Jonge Honden’ (or 'Young Blood') - artists at the beginning of their careers get the chance to be part of the musical laboratory for two years. Shaza Manla, Hessel Moeselaar, Maripepa Contreras and Tatiana Rosa join forces in a vibrant performance for OFF.

For more information about Splendor:

Artist Talk Peter Sellars
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
18.00 – 18.30  

American director Peter Sellars is known not only for his directing of repertory operas, but also for his efforts on behalf of new opera projects and artists. Topics such as social justice, responsibility and inclusivity are high on his agenda. In this artist talk, he talks about his role in the OFF production Perle Noire, shares his love for opera and his vision of the opera of the future.



Composers panel
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
14.00 – 14.55

What does it take to compose opera in the 21st century? What role does tradition play and how important is it to find new influences from outside the world of classical music? Composers connected to the Opera Forward Festival start the conversation.

Nastya Vogan & Albert van Abbe present Лісовi піснi live ft. Mariia Knihnytska
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
15.00 – 15.45

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 Mariia Knihnytska, they have created a composition for electronics, piano and soprano, inspired by the mystery and beauty of Ukrainian mythology and folklore.

Vrij Spel’ with Jet Berkhout
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
16.00 – 16.45

In Vrij Spel (‘Free Play’) on NPO Klassiek, host Jet Berkhout challenges young musicians to breathe new life into a classical piece. Now, live in the foyer, she presents a special OFF edition with, among others, saxophone player Tom Sanderman, pianist Vera Kooper, mezzo-soprano Eline Welle, cellist Diederik van Dijk, ud player Mehmet Polat, viola da gamba player Robert Smith and viola trio Three Violas.

Spoken word X Choral singing
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
17.00 – 17.25

Poetic stories meet harmonic vocal lines and explore a shared future. Spoken word artist Lev Avitan and an ensemble of singers, including from The Chorus of Dutch National Opera, present the result of their research: what does a fusion of their disciplines sound like? An important new step in the prominent role spoken word has played in recent editions of the Opera Forward Festival.

Reimagining Opera - Noise, tekno, post-punk & impro
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
18.00 – 18.45

What does 'opera' mean in the 21st century? Experimental voice artist Stephanie Pan (one of the artists in the 2022 OFF production I Have Missed You Forever) explores this question from the perspective of the underground club scene, experimental electronics and improvisation. She does so together with a collective of leading experimental artists: Marc Alberto, Floris van Bergeijk, Lynn Cassiers, Ji Youn Kang and Stelios Manousakis. In collaboration with V2_Lab for Unstable Media in Rotterdam.

Rory Ronde
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
19.15 – 19.50

Rory Ronde is a Dutch guitarist who collaborates with Wouter Hamel, Roos Jonker and is part of New Cool Collective. His solo work is released under his pseudonym Kofi Anonymous.

Are you going to see a performance at Dutch National Opera & Ballet as part of the Opera Forward Festival? You may also notice pop-up SOUNDS by the following artists:

Dominique Vleeshouwers
Dominique Vleeshouwers is known for his versatility and out-of-the-box performances. In 2020, he was the first percussionist to be awarded the Dutch Music Prize, and in 2014 he caused a stir by winning first prize, press award and audience award at the TROMP International Percussion Competition. The year before, he had graduated cum laude from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with the performance Child Soldier, which won him the AHK Finals Award.

Soheil Shayesteh
Multi-instrumentalist Soheil Shayesteh is a violinist, kamanche player and electronic musician. His unique sound palette explores the interfaces between contemporary classical music, Persian traditional music and experimental and interactive electronics.

Omar Medina
With a background in Mexican folk music, free-improv, and contemporary pop music, Mexican composer/producer Omar Medina creates sound worlds that are not tied to any particular tradition, but invoke our imagination.

Nabou Claerhout
The work of Antwerp-based trombonist and composer Nabou Claerhout reveals an unconditional love for her expressive instrument. Her music-making is adventurous, but at the same time feels like coming home.

Charmaine is a Rotterdam-based DJ serving up a broad palette of sounds, ranging from jazz-fusion to powerful disco and Chicago house, and from dubbed-out electronics to soothing soul.

Edgar Ramiro
When listening to the sets of DJ Edgar Ramiro, a member of the Hot Mama Hot collective, it is impossible to stand still. His musical style, inspired by music from all over the world, is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Gregory Caers - ANIMA(LS)

The performances by director Gregory Caers and students from the MBO Theaterschool Rotterdam have become a popular part of the Opera Forward Festival. With his incisive theatrical language, Caers formulates physical responses to opera and music. ANIMA(LS) therefore picks up where OFF's production of Animal Farm leaves off. Animals move among humans and behave like them. They mirror, mimic and pose in a desperate attempt to fit in. But how long before something breaks? Be surprised by a special theatrical intervention in the festival heart at the end of Animal Farm (March 10) and Perle Noire (March 11).

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

Read more about the LABS: Performing Arts

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 8 March.

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

Learn more about LABS Visual Arts x I Fell Asleep On Minute Six (Sandberg Institute Re:master Opera)

Learn more about LABS Visual Arts x Van Eesteren Museum

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

OFF LAB Performing Arts

Follow the button below for more information on the five different performances, including the cast and libretti.

OFF LAB Performing Arts: book tickets

Book your free ticket via the button below for one of the timeslots and watch all five performances in sequence.

OFF TALKS visual


Opera is a genre that can move and spark movement. That is why during the Opera Forward Festival, we will be hosting conversations about stereotyping, the climate crisis, inclusion, and on the power and responsibility of the genre and the institution. The TALKS will take place in our foyer on the evenings of Monday 6 March and Tuesday 7 March.


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 and climate activism
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
20.00 – 21.30

Can art bring about fundamental change, and if so, how? In collaboration with the creative team of The Shell Trial (premiere: OFF 2024), a new opera in the form of a polyphonic climate conversation, OFF hosts an evening with relevant thinkers from the world of activism and art. How do artists and (performing) arts institutions deal with the ecological crisis, which is largely a crisis of responsibility? What can, should and must be expected of them?

Guests include

  • Theatre maker Anoek Nuyens, who together with Rebekka de Wit created the award-winning play The Shell Case, which will be adapted into an opera for the Opera Forward Festival 2024.

  • Chris Julien, Senior Research Fellow at Waag, Futurelab for Technology and Society, and active in Extinction Rebellion.

  • Manoj Kamps is a queer conductor, composer, and theatre producer. They are the conductor and creator of The Shell Trial
  • Romy Roelofsen is the stage director and creator of The Shell Trial and the co-artistic director of Het Geluid Maastricht, a musical theatre company.
  • Nancy Jouwe is a cultural historian who specializes in (post)colonial past and present, intersectionality, and social and cultural practices.
  • Nicholas Till is associate professor of Musical Theatre and Opera at the UvA. His inaugural lecture was on opera and the environment; he is co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.

The evening will also feature the work of Ellen Reid, composer of The Shell Trial. The American artist, whose opera P r i s m won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is one of the most innovative sound artists of her generation.



Joséphine Baker and the stereotyping of black artists: The Need for Legacy
Dutch National Opera & Ballet foyer
20.00 – 21.30

American-born performer Joséphine Baker became a sensation in early 20th-century Europe for her performances in a banana skirt, singing about her 'home' in Africa. In a white world, she had to conform to clichés and stereotypes of black entertainers in order to succeed. In this TALK, curated by The Need For Legacy, The OFF production Perle Noire and Joséphine Baker's career and life provide a starting point for a conversation about performers of colour in the opera world and the decolonisation of the art form.

On the programme:

  • A lecture on Joséphine Baker by cultural anthropologist and author Lizzy van Leeuwen.

  • A panel discussion on the importance of inclusive archiving and gaps in the history of the performing arts, with Kimberley Smit (The Need for Legacy) and Shishani Vranckx (singer-songwriter, guitarist, musicologist and researcher for The Need for Legacy).

About The Need for Legacy
The Need for Legacy is a foundation that strives for an inclusive Dutch theatre history. To this end, the foundation's staff delves into the archives of various performing arts institutions. They bring unknown stories and histories to light, with the aim of reviewing history and shaping the present.


Central to OFF are three large-scale, daring performances that take us out of our comfort zone and in search of something new. OPERAS are available to anyone up to the age of 35 for just €20*, regardless of ticket category (*excluding booking fee).

Ändere die Welt! campagnebeeld


Music  Eisler, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Beethoven et al.
Musical direction  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.

Animal Farm


Music  Alexander Raskatov
Musical direction  Bassem Akiki
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
Concept, co-creation and performance  Julia Bullock
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.

Trailer Opera Forward Festival 2023

Trailer Opera Forward Festival 2023
Ohim Oscam tentoonstelling

Pre-opening tentoonstelling 'Shifting the Narrative'

Met trots presenteren OSCAM en modeplatform OHIM de modetentoonstelling ‘Shifting the Narritive’; een multidisciplinaire modetentoonstelling die de Zwarte man centraal stelt. Verwacht een show met nieuw en opwindend werk van nationale en internationale artiesten die reflecteren op de Zwarte man in de mode. Voor deze tentoonstelling werkte OSCAM samen met het decoratelier van Nationale Opera & Ballet, waar de ateliermedewerkers het decor ontwikkelden. Bezoekers van het Opera Forward Festival hebben op zondag 12 maart vanaf 18.00 uur exclusief toegang tot de pre-opening party bij OSCAM in Amsterdam Zuidoost. 

Locatie: Bijlmerplein 110, Amsterdamse Poort 
Datum: Zondag 12 maart
Tijd: 18.00 - 21.00 uur

Foto: Carin Verbruggen

Programme OFF

Follow the button below to check out the timetable for the Opera Forward Festival 2023 by day, location, and time.

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