Impression Holland Festival 2012
Theatres filled with expectant audiences, a real festival vibe in the city and a buzz in the media, both famous and up-and-coming names making waves with their performances in its 65th edition the Holland Festival showed itself to be still very much alive and kicking. During the whole month of June, Amsterdam was the epicentre of international performing arts. Exciting and interesting artists from all disciplines (and especially the cross-over areas in between) shared their outlook on the world with the audience, making this edition into a true celebration. The festival opened with C(H)OEURS, choreographer Alain Platel's latest, grand-scale performance with his dance company les Ballets C de la B and the 150 strong choir and orchestra of the Teatro Real from Madrid. C(H)OEURS is inspired by, among others, Jonathan Littell's bestselling novel The Kindly Ones and deals with the dangerous beauty of the masses. The emotionally charged performance, which has the choir participating in the choreography, was a hit with the audience and proved a wonderful opening to the Holland Festival. Many productions featuring in the festival were rooted in personal stories, linking (auto)biographical elements with wider social issues. The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic´ portrayed a stylised version of the infl uential artist's youth. Partly because of the artistic team responsible for this production, including Abramovic´ herself, Robert Wilson, Willem Dafoe and Antony Hegarty, the expectations were high from the moment the performance was announed in December. Every evening, long queues formed in front of the Royal Theatre Carré of people hoping to get hold of spare tickets for the sold out performances. In a car dealership at the other side of the city, Wunderbaum, Walter Bart's theatre collective, performed Detroit Dealers, the story of Bart's granddad, car dealer Arie Bart. The Rotterdam based group presented their story in a cross-over of dramatised documentary, theatre and music, mixing fi ction with reality. In his The Speaker's Progress, Kuwaiti theatre maker Sulayman Al-Bassam, presented a satire on the hopeless political situation in the Arab world and the changes in the aftermath of the Arab spring, weaving in many of his own experiences.Another positively biographical performance was composer Robin de Raaff's and librettist Janine Brogt's latest opera Waiting for Miss Monroe, performed by their regular partners De Nederlandse Opera. Directed by Lotte de Beer, this three act opera portrayed Monroe as a woman tormented by her fears. Some of the featured dance performances also incorporated (auto) biographical elements. With enfant, choreographer Boris Charmatz presented a confrontational performance dealing with power and manipulation in the relationships between adults and children. Power and suppression were also themes which were explicitly addressed in La création du monde 1923 – 2012, the young Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula's African response to the romantic view of Africa in the eponymous ballet from 1923. The production integrated Linyekula's commentary with a historical reconstruction of the original performance. Similarly, Tabula rasa: Tallinn 30 –9 – 77 presented a reconstruction of a historical programme. Just as in the birthday concert for the then 30 year old Gidon Kremer, Arvo Pärt's Tabula rasa and Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 1 were performed in one programme, alongside a new, specially commissioned score by the Estonian composer Toivo Tulev. Violinist Simone Lamsma's fi erce and fl awless performance made the concert a real triumph. This year's festival put special focus on the multitalented Dutch composer Micha Hamel. He composed two works which premiered at the festival: Requiem, a song cycle for tenor, piano and ensemble, starring Marcel Beekman; and The Red Kimono, a service of worship directed by Jos van Kan for the same-titled painting by 19th century Dutch artist G.H. Breitner. The performance was made possible by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, which kindly facilitated the use of the painting. This year's edition also featured more visual arts. William Forsythe's installation City of Abstracts was presented at two public locations. Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler took up a week-long residency at the Frascati theatre to work on their performance project Ancient Evenings, which they followed up with two presentations illustrating their progress during the week. William Kentridge, best known for his graphic work and his animations, presented his chamber opera Refuse the Hour. One of the musical highlights was the weekend dedicated to the centenary year of the birth of composer John Cage (1912 – 1992). Under the heading The Theatre of John Cage, his less performed theatrical works were presented: Song Books, interpreted by New York ensemble Alarm Will Sound, Europera 3 & 4 by Internationales Opernstudio Köln and Roaratorio: an Irish Circus on Finnegan's Wake, performed by Irish folk musicians and the sound engineers with whom Cage used to work himself. Especially for children (and their parents) Zonzo Compagnie staged the Cage children's performance Listen to the Silence. In between the concerts in the great hall of the Muziekgebouw, Slagwerk Den Haag presented, free of charge, works for percussion featuring such instruments as cacti, sea shells and radios. The spectacular fi nale to the weekend was Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras, sounding from all corners of the public space at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ. As well as the Muziekgebouw, the Gashouder at the Westergasfabriek once again proved to be a perfect concert hall. The spatiality of this large, spherical building was fully exploited in Out of the Box, a co-production with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra — a programme including composer Richard Rijnvos' latest work Antarctique, in which twelve percussionists surrounded the audience. Similarly, Magnus Lindberg's overwhelming piece Kraft (1985), in which the six soloists and the rest of the orchestra moved through the venue, sounded perfect in this space. De Gashouder also served as the sublime setting of Stanley Kubrick's fi lm classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, the score to which was performed live by a large choir and symphony orchestra, encouraging the audience to imagine themselves sitting inside a huge spacecraft. The festival's wide variety of performances meant that every visitor had his or her own favourites. Simon McBurney's virtuoso theatre performance The Master and Margarita was chosen as the offi cial VPRO Audience Favourite, followed in second place by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado and Antony & the Johnsons' concert with the Metropole Orchestra at the Concertgebouw. The concert performed by the world famous Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela with its even more famous star conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the helm, provided the ultimate fi nale to the festival. With South-American spirit the orchestra played Rituales Amerindios by Esteban Benzecry and Richard Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie, before getting the audience off their seats in appreciation of a number of swinging encores. The 2012 edition of the Holland Festival was special for a number of reasons. From the moment the ticket sales were started and it was announced that Alain Platel would open the festival, Michael Nyman would perform, Marina Abramovic´, Willem Dafoe and Antony would feature in a play directed by Robert Wilson and the Orchestra Simón Bolívar would provide the finale, this 65th edition proved an instant hit with the audience, who valued the programme line-up for its mix of big names, new work, young makers and an appetite for experiment. This extensive interest was also refl ected in long and intense post-performance discussions. The challenging stamina in Olivier Dubois' Révolution, the sensitivity of Boris Charmatz' enfant, the humanism in Alain Platel's C(H)OEURS, the sustained intensity of Vincent Macaigne's Requiem 3, the uncompromised chaos of Cage's Roaratorio, the daring East-West cross-over in Passio Compassio these are a few of the highlights showing how the festival stimulates reflection, discussion and debate, and why it is highly valued by the public.