Dutch National Opera presents


This show was to been seen in June 2014

Terrorised by TV ratings


Martijn Padding
Tragicomedy in four acts
Libretto by P.F. Thomése
World premiere 3 June 2014, Rabozaal, Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam
Co-production with the Holland Festival

A season with the Dutch National Opera would not be complete without a world premiere. In a co-production with the Holland Festival 2014 we are proud to present the new opera Laika by the Dutch composer Martijn Padding. The libretto, by the author P.F. Thomése, will be sung in Dutch.

In short

Robbert, the presenter of a popular television talk show, is fed up with his job. Via a radio transmitter he makes contact with the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the ‘space dog’ Laika, who will drift through outer space for eternity. The show’s ratings have plummeted, Robbert loses his cool, kicks the audience out of the studio and makes a dash for it. Gagarin and Laika come to fetch him. He only has to let go...

Psycho-like side
Martijn Padding wrote to the singers in 2012: ‘Each of the four acts of the opera will be very different. The first and third are ecstatic, and as they take place in the tawdry world of the television studio they bounce every which way. The second act is dark, with a Psycho-like side. The last act becomes transparent, space-like and otherworldly.’ After having produced the first rough sketches, Padding worked with each singer separately, keeping his or her specific vocal ‘idiosyncrasies’ in mind.

Liberation in the cosmos
Padding and librettist P.F. Thomése poke fun at the superficiality of ratings-obsessed television programmes. The celebrated presenter Robbert is at the end of his tether: everyone knows him, but he no longer truly knows himself. Moreover, he still lives with his domineering mother, who keeps the embalmed body of his father on display in the living room. Since his early youth Robbert has immersed himself in the cosmos, and it is there where he will find liberation.


Team, Cast and Chorus

Etienne Siebens

Stage Directors 
Aernout Mik
Marjoleine Boonstra
Set Designers 
Aernout Mik
Elsje de Bruijn
Costume Designers 
Aernout Mik
Elisabetta Pian
Lighting Designer 
Uri Rapaport
Sound Designer 
Frank van der Weij
Klaus Bertisch
Chorus Master 
Henry Kelder
Thomas Oliemans
Trix Dominatrix 
Claron McFadden
Marcel Beekman
Helena Rasker
Marieke Steenhoek
Joeri Gagarin 
Dennis Wilgenhof
Mattijs van de Woerd
Leonie Meijer /
Bas Julius Brons,
cover: Nimaro Dorine Ochan Ocheng


Aernout Mik
Dutch National Opera has engaged the versatile visual artist Aernout Mik as stage director. Laika is his first opera staging (together with Marjoleine Boonstra); additionally he co-designs the decor (with Else de Bruijn) and costumes (with Elisabetta Pian). Robbert is sung by the popular Dutch baritone Thomas Oliemans (Papageno, Die Zauberflöte), and his mother by Helena Rasker (Legende, Guillaume Tell). The title role is portrayed by a boy soprano and Gagarin by the bass Dennis Wilgenhof (Legende).

Asko|Schönberg performs music from the 20th and 21st century. Besides performing music by great, established names such as Andriessen, Gubaidulina, Kagel, Kurtág, Ligeti, Rihm and Stockhausen, it also champions younger composers such as Van der Aa, Padding, Widmann and Zuidam, as well as the newest generation of composers, while the ink on their manuscripts is still drying. However the founders of 20th-century music are also amply represented: from Weill to Schönberg and from Stravinsky to Messiaen.


Mondriaan Fund, Holland Festival, Fonds Podiumkunsten, CMS.


    Tue 10 Jun De Volkskrant (5 juni 2014)

    ***** Glamour notes and showy performance arouse the desire to really be able to dream of floating in space.

    Tue 10 Jun Het Parool (4 juni 2014)

    *** Five reasons to go (…) a completely Dutch cast who sing the stars from the sky (...) incredibly beautiful music (...) just the overture in itself is truly magnificent. Padding performs magic with improbable timbres (...) one of the rare operas that sometimes make you laugh out loud.

    Tue 10 Jun NRC Handelsblad (4 juni 2014)

    *** The libretto by novelist P.F. Thomése contains some literary gems (...) A sample of daring programming by Pierre Audi; a brave linking of three creative brains, interpreted by the best musicians and singers.

    Tue 10 Jun Trouw (4 juni 2014)

    *** A top-notch cast, with Claron McFadden (Trix), Dennis Wilgenhof (Yuri) and Mattijs van de Woerd (Leporello). Etienne Siebens conducts Asko|Schönberg skilfully through the swing and humour of Padding’s score, and there are clever contributions from VocaalLAB. The whole is reminiscent of a contemporary ‘gesamtkunstwerk’.

    Mon 27 Jan Martijn Padding

    ‘I strive for music that is light-hearted and serious.’