Dutch National Opera presents
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A living work of art
The inspiration for Willem Jeths’ third opera, Ritratto (‘Portrait’), was Luisa Casati. One life-size portrait of her by Giovanni Boldini was included in the exhibition High Society at the Rijksmuseum (2018) and a whole show in Venice was dedicated to portraits of her.
Luisa Casati Stampa di Soncino (1881–1957) led a life of wealth and extravagance in high-society Paris, Venice and Rome, where she surrounded herself with prominent artists, following her motto: ‘I want to be a living work of art’. She had a turbulent relationship with Gabriele d’Annunzio, Léon Bakst designed exotic dresses for her, and she commissioned countless portraits of herself by artists including Kees van Dongen, Filippo Marinetti, Man Ray, Romaine Brooks and Giovanni Boldini.
In composing operas such as Ritratto, Willem Jeths – who was the Netherlands’ first national composer between 2014 and 2016 – manipulates orchestral colours and deliberately selects timbres to match his protagonists. ‘I’m convinced that music can be stronger and more expressive if people can relate to it.’
Team and cast Ritratto
Design and libretto
Marcel Sijm’s productions combine an element of surprise with plenty of humour and an emphasis on splashy design, as exemplified by his collaboration with set designer Marc Warning for Legende. In this opera, we can look forward to costumes designed by Jan Taminiau, whose creations include the famous blue cloak that Queen Máxima wore at King Willem-Alexander’s coronation. The brand new libretto is by the young writer and director Frank Siera, who graduated from the Toneelacademie in 2012. In addition to writing for Dutch National Opera, he also wrote for Veenfabriek, mugmetdevuurvliegen, Schrijversgevang, De Kosmonaut and De Queeste.
Dutch National Opera Studio
Dutch National Opera Studio was launched on 1 September 2018 as an intensive training programme for six talented young vocalists and one répétiteur. Under the inspiring direction of soprano Rosemary Joshua, it strives to bridge conservatories and professional practice, providing a showcase for young talent at a myriad of events and venues from lunchtime concerts to the main stage.
The Netherlands’ only string orchestra for 30 years already, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta consists of 22 musicians led by violinist and artistic director Candida Thompson. The ensemble's repertoire spans a wide spectrum of musical styles from Baroque to contemporary. In the 2019-2020, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta is accompanying Willem Jeths’ Ritratto.
Opera in 7 scenes
13 March 2020
International Theatre Amsterdam
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Musical Director
- Geoffrey Paterson
- Stage Director
- Marcel Sijm
- Frank Siera
- Set Designer
- Marcel Warning
- Costume Designer
- Jan Taminiau
- Lighting Designer
- Alex Brok
- Klaus Bertisch
- Sopraan: Julietta Aleksanyan, Stephanie Desjardins, tba
Alt: Cameron Shahbazi, Joel Vuijk, tba
Tenor: Lucas van Lierop, Zachery Vandermeulen, tba
Bas: Frederik Bergman, Dominic Kraemer, Sam Carl
- Amsterdam Sinfonietta
- Luisa C.S. di Soncino
- Verity Wingate - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Romaine Brooks
- Polly Leech - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Gabriele D’Annunzio
- Paride Cataldo - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Martin Mkhize - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Sergei Diaghilev
- Cameron Shahbazi - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Man Ray
- Lucas van Lierop - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Jacob Epstein
- Frederik Bergman - De Nationale Opera Studio
- Kees van Dongen
- Dominic Kraemer
- Filippo Marinetti
- Sam Carl - De Nationale Opera Studio
Marcel SijmStage director
Marcel Sijm (concept and director) creates opera in all its various forms and does not shy away from interaction between different styles and performers. Besides the Baroque, classical and Romantic opera repertoire, he has a penchant for contemporary works, preferably in the Dutch language.
(....) one could marvel at a special, overwhelming, convincing, colourful and imaginative staging, (...)'.