Holland Festival 2019

International Performing Arts Festival Amsterdam

Holland Festivaltrailer by Holland FestivalHolland Festival

Orchesterfinalisten from aus LICHT by Ruth & Martin WalzHolland Festival

The 72nd edition of the Holland Festival was special in more ways than one.

It was the first to work with associate artists, in this case South Africa’s William Kentridge and Congo’s Faustin Linyekula. It also staged a world premiere that was nothing short of legendary: aus LICHT, a mega-production of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen in the Gashouder, co-produced by the Dutch National Opera, Holland Festival, the Royal Conservatoire The Hague and the Stockhausen-Stiftung für Musik.

Opera in het park: Pelléas et Mélisande by Janiek DamHolland Festival

The Holland Festival invited 36 companies to perform in 2019.

They played a total of 119 shows in 26 days. During that period, the festival welcomed over 76,000 visitors, an occupancy rate of 84%. The programme included a number of free events, including Parlement debout in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, The Invisible Exhibition and Vehicle in Frascati, and Opera in the Park:a screened performance of Pelléas et Mélisande in Park Frankendael. The Festival also included an extensive context programme, with follow-up interviews, debates, films and an exhibition.

Enyangeni/Ursonate by Ada NieuwendijkHolland Festival

Associate artists William Kentridge and Faustin Linyekula both had a significant share in programming.

The Festival co-produced new work from both artists, displayed existing work and consulted with them to invite makers with an artistic affinity. 

Orchesterfinalisten from aus LICHT by Ruth & Martin WalzHolland Festival

aus Licht featured many highlights from the opera cycle LICHT by Karlheinz Stockhausen and over fifteen hours of live music. Over 600 people worked for four years front of house and behind the scenes to stage this once-ina-lifetime event, co-produced with the Dutch National Opera, the Royal Conservatoire The Hague and the Stockhausen-Stiftung für Musik.

The Head & The Load by Janiek DamHolland Festival

William Kentridge’s production The Head & The Load opened the Festival with a grand spectacle. The work illuminated the plight of the nearly two million African porters and carriers used by the British, French, and Germans who bore the brunt of the casualties during the First World War in Africa – a tragic story of immense historical significance that has remained largely untold.

De zes Brandenburgse Concerten by Anne van AerschotHolland Festival

The Six Brandenburg Concertos are an ambitious undertaking. As with Vortex Temporum - the festival's opening performance in 2014 - the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker approached the music as a score for the choreography, making this performance embody Bach's polyphonic mastery. From this simplicity a compelling whole came into being.

Los Incontados: un tríptico by Ada NieuwendijkHolland Festival

In Los Incontados: un tríptico the Colombian theatre company Mapa Teatro explored the fragile boundary between celebrations and violence. In three parts, including an old Afro-Colombian ritual and a farewell to the longest-lasting revolutionary dream of Latin America, the civil war was viewed from different sides.

Beautiful Me by Val AdamsonHolland Festival

Beautiful Me

In the solo Beautiful Me choreographer and dancer Gregory Maqoma shared his concern about South African society and political power in its current form throughout the world.

The Scarlet Letter by Bruno SimaoHolland Festival

In The Scarlet Letter the controversial Spanish writer, director and performance artist Angélica Liddell focused on contemporary sexual mores. The performance was based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s eponymous novel – a work about sin, punishment and reconciliation.

Afropean by Eric van NieuwlandHolland Festival

The context programme covered films, debates and conversations that put the work and thinking of the associate artists into perspective.

The debate series The Welcome Table included a wide variety of guests, including The Black Archives, Black Renaissance and filmmaker Manthia Diawara to name but three. The topics reflected topical discussions in the Netherlands about colonialism, neocolonialism, oppression and historiography. In addition, the Frascati theatre became ‘the House of Kentridge and Linyekula’, whose own work was performed there alongside that of talented, often young artists whose work was developed either in Kentridge’s The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg or Linyekula’s Studios Kabako in Kisangani.

Electro Symphonic Orchestra by Ada NieuwendijkHolland Festival

Electro Symphonic Orchestra

The boundaries between acoustic and electronic music disappeared in this concert by Colin Benders’ Electro Symphonic Orchestra. He presented a full length composition for his brand new orchestra of modular synthesisers and many speakers at the Concertgebouw’s Main Hall – the Valhalla of orchestral music.

Congo by Agathe PoupeneyHolland Festival


In this ode to his homeland, Faustin Linyekula reflected on the claim 'Congo does not exist. It is only a river and the big forest', continuing his lifetime exploration of his country. Together with Pasco Losanganya and Daddy Moanda Kamono, he gave his country a voice and a face using dance, text and sound.

Van Manen, Forsythe, Arqués by Hans GerritsenHolland Festival

Van Manen, Forsythe, Arqués

Three generations of choreographers, two acclaimed works by the great masters William Forsythe and Hans van Manen, and one world premiere of Young Creative Associate Juanjo Arqués. This programme contained three choreographies never seen before at Dutch National Ballet. 

Not Another Diva ... by Gregor Brändli/Kaserne BaselHolland Festival

Director Faustin Linyekula and South African singer and actress Hlengiwe Lushaba wanted to show a different kind of diva, far removed from stereotypes – a diva who performs in back gardens, mingles with normal people, and has never lost touch with daily reality. Not Another Diva ... was a compelling theatre concert and an ode to the power of woman.

Enyangeni/Ursonate by Ada NieuwendijkHolland Festival

Enyangeni / Ursonate 

Choreographer and composer Nhlanhla Mahlangu directed Enyangeni, an emotional journey centred on vertical movement. It was followed by William Kentridge’s interpretation of Ursonate. He took German poet Kurt Schwitters’ famous sound poem from 1932 as the starting point for a performance.

Still from Chronicle of Current EventsHolland Festival

The Chronicle of Current Events

Consisting of music, performance and visuals by a group of Russian artists collaborating with Kirill Serebrennikov, Chronicle of Current Events was about the artist’s fate, life choices and about the casualties of communism and the Holocaust. It showed how artist’s lives are impacted by the limitations and dominant ideology of their country.

HF Young Academy The Dark Edition by Eric van NieuwlandHolland Festival

HF Young Academy: The Dark Edition

In a totally darkened room, HF Young presented a special programme for everyone who wanted to ‘reset’ themselves, and open themselves completely to performances, discussions and works of art which require a different perspective.

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) by BaranovaHolland Festival

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)

In Triptych, composer Bryce Dessner, librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle and director Kaneza Schaal gave the audience a fresh view of the pictures of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and at the same time question the stereotypical image of the black man as object of lust probes the ongoing urgency of questions around race, sexuality and objectification Mapplethorpe continues to evoke.

Paisajes para no colorear by Jorge Sánchez/GAMHolland Festival

Nine teenage girls claimed their place on the stage. They forced the spectators to listen to their view of the world, in particular their experiences of gender-related violence and feminism in Chile and South America. Chilean director Marco Layera worked for a year with these young actresses on Paisajes para no colorear.

Antony & Cleopatra by Magda BizarroHolland Festival

In Antony and Cleopatra, by the Portuguese theatre maker Tiago Rodrigues, Sofia Dias and Vítor Roriz played a contemporary Antony and Cleopatra. Together they created an amusing and moving universe in which the roles are reversed.

Parlement debout by Les AduHolland Festival

Parlement debout

Parlement debout was a moving open-air performance, inspired by ‘les parlementaires debout’, men who hang about at kiosks and taxis in Congo, commenting on the news, speaking their minds in the public square, and disrupting the political order. People joined in Faustin Linyekula's procession that passed by various venues in Amsterdam’s Zuidoost district.

Still from Eight by Michel van der AaHolland Festival


Music theatre, virtual reality and visual arts came together in Eight. Eight tells a woman’s poignant life story in reverse chronological order. Visitors, equipped with VR glasses and headphones, moved one by one through an installation. They could manipulate physical and virtual objects, and meet the woman at various crucial moments in her life.

Le jeune noir à l'épée by Fabien CosteHolland Festival

Le jeune noir à l’epée

French writer and rapper Abd Al Malik was invited by Musée d’Orsay to create a theatrical concert alongside an exhibition on black models in art history. This led to a ‘rhythmic rebellion’ about identity in the age of globalisation – recited, rapped, slammed and sung to black music, white music, and everything in between.

Weerkeren by Jan BoeveHolland Festival


The Democratic Republic of Congo has been the scene of violent conflict for more than twenty years. Many residents have chosen or were forced to leave the country. Choreographer Faustin Linyekula did the opposite, returning to his homeland Congo, where he founded an art institution. What function can art and art centers have in a country in conflict? Linyekula went into conversation with Dessy Gavrilova, who is the founding director of The Red House – Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia. Both their art centres are based in countries in conflict. The program was moderated by Yoeri Albrecht, director of De Balie.

Turan Dokht by Nichon GlerumHolland Festival

The opera Turan Dokht corrected a historical inaccuracy. Composer Aftab Darvishi and director Miranda Lakerveld’s ‘intercultural rewriting’ of Puccini’s beloved opera Turandot (1924) returned the title character to her Persian homeland. The young Iranian Aftab Darvishi composed new music blended with authentic Iranian elements.

Piki Piki by La Bellone/BrusselHolland Festival

Piki Piki

Congolese all-round talent Djino Alolo Sabin made his second own work in Kisangani: Piki Piki. This political solo is inspired by two objects in his parent's house: a broken-down truck and the portrait of his grandfather which hung prominently in the living room for his entire youth.This photograph inspired him to pursue his dream and keep on fighting for a better life and a better country. Piki Piki is that dream.

Paper Music by Christopher HewittHolland Festival

Vaudeville, opera and film came together in this absurdist-poetic 'ciné-concert' by William Kentridge and composer Philip Miller. Paper Music is the product of twenty-five-years of collaboration between Kentridge and Miller and connects several themes from their collaborative work. The compelling work linked colonialism with various relativity theories and a monumental 'breathing machine'.

De kersentuin by Jan VersweyveldHolland Festival

The Cherry Orchard

The celebrated British director Simon McBurney tackled The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov’s last play – about the painful demise of people living in illusions of the past. Madame Ranevskaya returns to her ancestral estate in the Russian provinces. But the world has changed. The family has huge debts and businessman Lopakhin sees only one solution with which he can drag the family into the new era.

Cion; Requiem of Ravel's Bolero by Gemma KesselsHolland Festival

Toloki – the main character in the novels Ways of Dying (1995) and Cion (2007) by the author Zakes Mda – came to life in the dance performance Cion; Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero by the internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma. Taking inspiration from Toloki, and with eight dancers from his Vuyani Dance Theatre, Maqoma examined the dark history of his native country.

Vehicle by Ada NieuwendijkHolland Festival

Artist Gerhard Marx grafted two violins, a cello and a double bass onto the body of a motor vehicle. By transferring the delicate constellations of strings and bridges onto the surfaces of a vehicle, he turned the automotive body into resonator box to draw rich, varied and evocative voices from its body. Vehicle was as much about the intangible and emotive qualities of sound as about the raw, suggestive materiality of physical objects.

Credits: Story

Artistic team Holland Festival 2019

General director: Annet Lekkerkerker

Programming director dance & theatre: Annemieke Keurentjes
Programming director music & music theatre: Jochem Valkenburg
Programme maker: Ravian van den Hil

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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