Holland Opera, new opera since 1994
‘Holland Opera produces opera on a high level but also very accessible for a broad audience. Especially for people who fear opera’ - Algemeen Dagblad 2007
Holland Opera – formally known as Xynix Opera (XX) - was founded in 1994 and produces new opera for children and youngsters. Since 2005 the company (under the name Holland Opera) has taken the artistic challenge, besides making new productions and scouting young talents, to produce site specifics on a large scale. In 2010 Holland Opera has settled in a historic industrial building in Amersfoort, ‘de Veerensmederij’.
It’s the aim of Holland Opera not only to attract an audience by opera, but also to move, overwhelm and win this audience for life. Most of the time the operas are newly written and sometimes rather experimental, but they always reach a large audience.
Jonathan Dove, composer: "I am full of admiration for the work of Holland Opera. They completely understand that opera, at its best, is a popular art form. Their productions embrace the widest possible audience, creating beauty in unexpected places, and appealing to the great range of theatergoers with music-making of the highest standards and visually stunning presentation. As well as reinterpreting classic works, they are creating a new repertoire for a new generation of opera-lovers - seeking out composers who are both modern and able to speak directly to a contemporary audience. Work such as theirs is vital for the regeneration of our medium, and to ensure that there will be opera in the future."
HO has almost 20 years experience of delivering an education program to accompany its productions. Projects at schools are intertwining music with other important skills, such as reading, writing, and awareness of the environment. In recent years, the company has developed learning DVD’s for each youth production, so schools can prepare the children for the opera visit.
Research has shown that being involved with music stimulates the intellectual and social development of children. Music has the ability to connect the right and left side of the brain; linking cognitive skills and social behavior. An essential part of making music is to be able to listen to one another. HO makes substantial investment in its education program as it strongly believes the more a child is informed the more they will gain from opera.
Holland Opera works with a variety of very diverse composers such as Selim Azíz, Jeff Hamburg, Oene van Geel, Fons Merkies and Chiel Meijering. Besides bringing modern opera to the stage, the company performs works of Purcell, Monteverdi, Moussorgsky, Prokofiev and Händel.
The artistic directors of HO are Joke Hoolboom and Niek Idelenburg.
Holland Opera wishes to penetrate into the soul of its audience with opera which moves and enchants, which is accessible and up-to-date and which brings to the fore socially relevant topics. The performances, in which old stories are linked to the present day, stimulate the audience, through sophisticated compositions, to watch, listen and communicate. In this way Holland Opera works towards a liveable and harmonious world.
With a range which appeals to a diverse audience Holland Opera brings new operas to the attention of both young and old. This makes the further development of youth opera and the development of talent essential. Holland Opera aims to achieve the diversity in the works through cross-overs of styles and in combination with other disciplines. Apart from public performances the company plays a large number of private performances for schools. To Holland Opera these school performances are of great social importance, because in this way they reach children who would otherwise never attend an opera. Thus Holland Opera builds bridges between different cultures and between the different social strata.
ORFEO UNDERGROUND - Underground car park becomes Underworld
Orfeo Underground is a modern performance of Monteverdi's masterpiece in the immense car park underneath the Eemplein, in the centre of Amersfoort. The opera has an innovative musical interpretation with, next to the original ensemble the addition of flamenco guitarist Eric Vaarzon Morel and DJ: a new sound to familiar notes. L’Orfeo by Monteverdi, the first ever opera in the history of music, tells the story of demigod and singer Orfeo whose bride Euridice dies on their wedding day.
The car park underneath the Eemplein measures over 18,000 m2, and Orfeo takes place in different locations within the garage. The audience sometimes moves through the scenes. Sometimes they witness a dance at 1 metre distance, and then there is a scene 75 metres away where the audience sees a gripping play of shadows. An opera production with professional singers, master students from the conservatory, a baroque ensemble, DJ, flamenco guitar and three very good amateur choirs who all played performances for a week.
Holland Opera regularly plays at inspiring locations en gained fame through productions at, amongst others, Fort Rijnauwen, Concrete factory Basal and industrial monument 'de Veerensmederij'.
Music: Monteverdi – Direction: Joke Hoolboom – Choir Direction: Ralph Kooijman - Musical Direction: Niek Idelenburg - flamenco guitar: Eric Vaarzon Morel - DJ: Qbical – Ensemble Carthago Consort – Chamber Choir Venus – Nieuw Bach Ensemble – Chamber Choir Coqu
Orfeo and Euridice shine in underground car park
Holland Opera did it again! Last year the company from Amersfoort, which made its name with remarkable productions at remarkable locations, scored five stars for the production of Bluebeard at Fort Rijnauwen. Now the club around director Joke Hoolboom and conductor/arranger Niek Idelenburg once again deserves five stars for an overwhelmingly beautiful Orfeo.
With Orfeo Underground the company literally goes underground. Just as Orfeo went underground searching for his deceased Euridice, Hoolboom and the company descended to the first floor of the Eemgarage in Amersfoort. There, in the desolate surroundings of concrete and empty parking spaces, she found the perfect setting for the well-known myth of love that reaches even into death.
Once again Holland Opera manages to give an age-old work (the first real opera in the history of music, by Claudio Monteverdi) a contemporary and appealing form, without violating the original. Not to say that it wasn't interfered with. Hoolboom and Idelenburg actually permitted themselves quite a few liberties. Added were a DJ (DJ Qbical) and a jazz/flamenco guitarist (Eric Vaarzon Morel). Orfeo and Euridice – how else can they, in an underground car park – even arrived in a white Cadillac.
A clever idea, because all of these actions take place outside of the actual opera. Hoolboom created a theatrical entr’acte in which the audience was invited to take part in the story. The three hundred audience members (more weren't allowed in the car park) all of sudden became guests at the wedding of Orfeo and Euridice. They danced with and without Euridice. Through the headphones the audience had been given sounded Monteverdi's music, pimped up with driving beats and Vaarzon Morels fiery guitar-playing.
The inventive opening scene segued almost seamlessly into the original opera. There the direction proved strong and convincing through a relatively simple approach. Everything hinged on the interaction between the singers and the space. Sets weren't even necessary. In a superb way (and with glorious lighting and smoke effects) Hoolboom used the deepness of the space, the concrete pillars and low ceilings. If there is an underworld, for me it may look like an underground car park with the choirs of the spirits amongst the pillars and Euridice dancing for Pluto in a parking space.
That too was a golden choice. The role of Euridice, which in the original is only a small part, was danced here and thereby given a lot more depth. Musically this Orfeo is also a top production with an excellent choir, a perfectly playing ensemble and a convincing cast. So, don't look behind you, but make a beeline for the car park in Amersfoort.
Elsewhere in the national press:
daily newspaper Trouw ★★★★
"The final image is a delightful interplay of characters and their desolate surroundings. A cloud of smoke spreads over the ground and envelops the grey pillars in a haze. The deceases lovers seem to dissolve in the distance. After Bluebeard, which was performed at Fort Rijnauwen last year, Holland Opera managed once again to bring an opera to life in a surprising location."
daily newspaper Volkskrant ★★★★
"Just for having the guts to sing a family opera in an underground car park, Holland Opera deserves an extra star. How fitting it is to perform Monteverdi's L'Orfeo here (direction: Joke Hoolboom).
Orfeo the singer loses his bride Euridice to the underworld during their wedding feast. She dies, dancing on hard concrete."