Silbersee and Opera Forward Festival: adventures in opera making
A presentation about two remarkable forces in the Dutch opera field: the experimental opera and music theatre company Silbersee and Opera Forward Festival, an annual festival organized by Dutch National Opera. The presentation departs from the Silbersee’s production Avventure, which premiered at Opera Forward Festival 2018 and combined works by György Ligeti with new compositions by Raphaël Cendo. Stage director Nina Spijkers and singer Els Mondelaers share their experience on creating an experimental opera performance in which both singers and instrumentalists were fully involved in the theatrical action. Silbersee’s general and artistic director Romain Bischoff is interviewed about his approach as initiator, maker, musical director and inspirator of new opera creations like Avventure. Anthony Heidweiller (artistic associate director of Opera Forward Festival) links Silbersee’s performance with his ideas about opera making and speaks about his work with students and aspiring opera makers in the context of the festival. The interviews and presentation of this program is done by Wout van Tongeren, who worked with Silbersee for several years and is currently dramaturg and editor at Dutch National Opera & Ballet.
Silbersee is a creative house for music theatre productions based in Amsterdam that aims to broaden and expand the opera genre. Artistic director and founder Romain Bischoff creates meetings between a diversity of theatre makers, composers, writers, singers, dancers, actors, choreographers, puppeteers, circus performers and other artists, in genres ranging from classical to urban. This leads to interdisciplinary performances that each in their own way are physical, poetic and disarming.
Opera Forward Festival
In 2016, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Dutch National Opera founded the Opera Forward Festival, featuring experimental work by students and young talents alongside large scale opera productions. In February / March 2019 the festival will have its fourth edition.
Romain Bischoff – General Director of Silbersee, opera singer and conductor:
Romain Bischoff has led Silbersee for more than 15 years. He is the artistic strategist within this unorthodox Amsterdam production house for music theatre, which performs in a wide variety of venues, from church to concert hall and from theatre to farm. Bischoff is renowned as an interdisciplinary bridgebuilder pur sang; an innovator and driving force behind countless cocreations with makers and companies from every corner of the cultural world: from urban to classical, from writer to circus performer and from dance to visual art.
Bischoff started at a very early age as a bass-baritone with baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants. Since then he has developed into a versatile singer and performer: from Renaissance to contemporary, from Mozart’s Figaro to Xenakisʼ Déesse Athéna, from Bach’s St Matthew Passion to Ligeti’s Aventures. His specialisation lies in avant-garde opera. He has soloed in more than 150 contemporary works, in many leading opera houses and festivals, including the Holland Festival, the Dutch National Opera, Dresdner Tage der zeitgenössischen Musik, Festival Agora, the Venice Biennale, BAM New York, the Donaueschingen Festival and Festival Musica Strasbourg.
He has conducted numerous music theatre performances and 20 premieres, including the Refugee Operas; the highly acclaimed international performances On a foggy day and Cirque Vocal; and Seung-Ah Ohʼs opera Lege Wieg/Boş Beşik. At the Dutch National Opera, in 2014 he conducted Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus.
Els Mondelaers – Singer/performer (amongst others in Avventure):
The Belgian mezzo soprano Els Mondelaers expanded her career as a specialist interpreter of classical contemporary music to that of all-round performer. New challenges such as music and/or physical improvisation, music creation, acting and moving presented themselves. The world of music theater, contemporary dance and performance in addition to the contemporary concert venues became her second habitat. She is appreciated for her personal involvement in projects and her enthusiasm to be challenged in an artistic way. www.elsmondelaers.com
Nina Spijkers – Stage director (amongst others in Avventure):
Nina Spijkers finished her studies as theatre director at the Acadamy of Theatre and Dance of Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK) in 2014. In 2015 she has been distinguished with the Top Naeff Prize, a motivational award to promising talent from the Academy of Theatre and Dance. She is a constant director at Toneelschuur Productions, where she debuted succesfully with Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love in 2015. She has created idiosyncratic versions of Schiller’s Don Carlos (2016) and Tsjechov’s Ivanov (2017) as well as the catching music theatre piece Geluk (2018). For Don Carlos and Ivanov she was nominated for the BNG Nieuwe Theatermakersprijs and Ivanov was selected for the Dutch Theatre Festival 2017. With Avventure di anima e di corpo (2018), co-production of Silbersee with the Dutch National Opera, she made her debut as opera director.
Anthony Heidweiller – Artistic associate director of the Opera Forward Festival
Baritone Anthony Heidweiller studied at Utrecht Conservatory. He has sung diverse parts in Macbeth, Nabucco, Rigoletto, La Traviata and Strauss’ Elektra. In 2002 he sung the World Permiere of Rostam and Shorab in Theran. In 2012 he collaborated on a CD recording with Kyteman Orchestra and on the opera Join (Wiener Festwochen). He had great success with the parts of Alberich in Wagners Rheingoldin 2013 and with Bergs Wozzeck in 2015. In July 2018 Heidweiller sung the main part in Van Gilse’s opera Thijl. At Dutch National Opera he sung the part of Captain in the youth opera Hondenhartje in 2017 and 2018. Heidweiller has won several prizes for his activities in the field of opera education: Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation’s Award for Education (2008), the Culture Award of the City of Utrecht (2011) and the ‘Gouden C’ award of the Dutch Cultural Participation Fund (2018). Heidweiller is artistic associate director of the Opera Forward Festival (Dutch National Opera), artistic director of Operamakers and from 2019 associated with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Wout van Tongeren – moderator (dramaturge and editor at Dutch National Opera & Ballet)
Wout van Tongeren (1982) is dramaturg and editor at Dutch National Opera & Ballet. He has been teaching theatre history, dramaturgy and philosophy at several theatre academies in the Netherlands, including Fontys Academie voor Theater (Tilburg) and Academie voor Theater en Dans (Amsterdam). He worked as a dramaturg for (music) theatre companies such as Silbersee, Orkater and Mug met de gouden tand.