Dutch National Opera presents

Ritratto WILLEM JETHS (1959)

A living work of art

Duration 1:15

Breaks 0

By Jeths

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

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.

Willem Jeths

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. ‘Im 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.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta
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

Frank Siera

World premiere
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
Amsterdam Sinfonietta
Luisa C.S. di Soncino
Julietta Aleksanyan - De Nationale Opera Studio
Romaine Brooks
Polly Leech - De Nationale Opera Studio
Martin Mkhize - De Nationale Opera Studio
Sergei Diaghilev
Lucas van Lierop
Man Ray
Cameron Shahbazi
Jacob Epstein
Frederik Bergman
Kees van Dongen
Dominic Kraemer

Marcel Sijm

Stage 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.

    Tue 05 Feb Trouw about Marcel Sijms- Legende

    (....) one could marvel at a special, overwhelming, convincing, colourful and imaginative staging, (...)'.