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Stefan Hertmans' Novel THE CONVERT Becomes An Opera

Stefan Hertmans reconstructs the life of Vigdis, a distinguished Christian noblewoman from the eleventh century.

Next season, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen will present the world premiere of The Convert, a new opera by composer Wim Henderickx based on Stefan Hertmans' novel of the same name in a libretto adaptation by Krystian Lada. Hans Op de Beeck will act as both director and scenographer. The world premiere is scheduled for 10 May 2022 at Opera Antwerp.

In the internationally acclaimed novel The Convert (2020, Vintage), Stefan Hertmans reconstructs the life of Vigdis, a distinguished Christian noblewoman from the eleventh century, and her forbidden love for the Jewish boy David. We follow the woman's perilous journey from her birthplace Rouen to Monieux and on to Cairo. Pursued from all sides, Vigdis, who will later be called Hamoutal, and the young rabbi David find themselves in a chaotic world of pogroms, crusades and religious fanaticism.

Belgian composer Wim Henderickx wrote the music for this new opera. Henderickx is known for works in which he builds bridges between East and West, making him the perfect composer to evoke the different worlds in The Convert.

Polish director and librettist Krystian Lada wrote the English-language libretto based on the novel. The Belgian visual artist Hans Op de Beeck will be responsible for directing, scenography and costume design.

The world premiere of The Convert is scheduled for May 10 2022 at Opera Antwerp. After that, the opera will also be performed at the Opéra Rouen Haute Normandie, the city where part of the story is set.

The Convert is a co-production between Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and the Opéra Rouen Haute Normandie, in collaboration with Muziektheater Transparant. These three partners jointly commissioned the composition.

"As soon as I read the first pages about the epic journey of the extraordinary protagonist, I knew I was looking at the raw material for an opera. When Stefan and Wim contacted me with the same idea, it turned out to have been an auspicious omen. These young people fleeing violence provoked by religious madness are not merely figures from a distant past but we see their counterparts today in harrowing pictures in the newspapers," says Jan Vandenhouwe, artistic director of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. "We want to tell their timeless story and with this team of exceptional talent we have embarked on an equally exciting adventure."

More information about this production will follow later.Stefan Hertmans' Novel THE CONVERT Becomes An Opera


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