Dutch National Opera and Ballet Presents Opera Forward Festival 2023

Learn more about the performance lineup here!

By: Jan. 23, 2023
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Dutch National Opera and Ballet Presents Opera Forward Festival 2023

Urgent, compelling and extravagant. Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival (OFF) is a contrarian exploration of as yet uncharted territory. OFF seeks sounds that are still underrepresented in opera through groundbreaking musical theatre productions, in-depth programs, and new collaborations. Experience the conversation with progressive and critical voices about the future of the art form. OFF is a celebration of what opera essentially is: a fusion of diverse arts into a musical-theatrical whole.

Three big performances are at the heart of the Opera Forward Festival 2023:

ANIMAL FARM (Alexander Raskatov) - world premiere

Libretto Ian Burton
Stage direction Damiano Michieletto
Musical direction Bassem Akiki
With Gennady Bezzubenkov, Misha Kiria, Michael Gniffke, James Kryshak, Germán Olvera, Karl Laquit, Artem Krutko, Helena Rasker, Maya Gour, Elena Vassilieva, Holly Flack, Karl Laquit, Marcel Beekman, Francis van Broekhuizen and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
A musical adaptation of a satirical fable. Animal Farm is a revolutionary opera, based on George Orwell's timeless novel about a fight for freedom doomed to failure. The dystopian atmosphere and turmoil of shifting world views are interpreted in a new, extreme, heady composition.
Seven performances of Animal Farm at Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam
Fri 3 (world premiere), Sun 5*, Wed 8, Fri 10, Sun 12*, Tue 14 and Thu 16 March, 20:00 hrs (*14:00 hrs)
Commissioned and co-production by Dutch National Opera (Amsterdam), Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna), Teatro Massimo (Palermo), and Finnish National Opera and Ballet (Helsinki)

PERLE NOIRE: MEDITATIONS FOR JOSÉPHINE (Tyshawn Sorey) - European premiere

Texts Claudia Rankine
Stage direction Peter Sellars
Musical direction Tyshawn Sorey
With Julia Bullock and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
An exceptionally popular artist, a civil rights activist and a heroine of the French resistance. Perle Noire explores the life and struggles of the icon Joséphine Baker from a present-day perspective. The jazz-inspired compositions and improvisations provide meditative reflection on life.
Three performances of Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine at Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam
Thu 9 (European premiere), Sat 11 and Mon 13 March, 20:00 hrs.
Original production by Théatre du Châtelet (Paris)

ÄNDERE DIE WELT! (various composers) - world premiere

Musical direction, co-creator, arranger and pianist Pedro Beriso
Stage direction Mart van Berckel
With Sam Carl, Inna Demenkova, Claire Antoine, Michael Wilmering, Amara van der Elst and Orchestra LUDWIG
Does change mean progress, if history keeps repeating itself? We shout 'Ändere die Welt!' ('Change the world!') but how do you do it? Dutch National Opera Studio singers and spoken-word artist Amara van der Elst lead the audience through this quirky performance that weaves together existing, familiar music like an innovative collage.
Two performances of Ändere die Welt! at De Meervaart, Amsterdam
Sat 11 (world premiere), Sun 12* March, 20:15 hrs (*16:00 hrs)
Followed by a national tour: Haarlem (12 March), Sittard (17 March), Cuijk (24 March), Zwolle (26 March), Heerlen (28 March), Deventer (30 March) and Leiden (2 April)
Co-production by Dutch National Opera, Nederlandse Reisopera and Opera Zuid


The Opera Forward Festival challenges tomorrow's creators to make opera their own. Students from various art schools are inspired by the genre as well as by the ideas and craftsmanship of their peers. During the festival you will experience their research, and discoveries in a variety of forms: the LABS.


What will the future opera look like if we break free from conventions? If we abandon unwritten rules? What if we temporarily suspend our (pre-)judgments? Contemporary art forms and popular culture must and will merge into today's opera. We seek what we can in the future by looking at what we do not yet know. In terms of OFF, it's time to enter a new dimension, because that's where the opera of the future is.


Opera is a genre that can move and inspire people. The Opera Forward Festival defies the rules, traditions, and mores that have been imposed on it. We will discuss the genre's and the institution's power and responsibility, as well as their (painful) blind spots.

Opera Forward Festival is made possible by Main Sponsor National Opera & Ballet HOUTHOFF, Production Partner Ammodo, Founding Partners Opera Forward Festival Fonds 21 and VandenEnde Foundation and Partner OFF Labs Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Zabawas.


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