Holland Festival 2013

International Performing Arts Festival Amsterdam

By Holland Festival

Artistic Director: Pierre Audi

Impression Holland Festival 2013

In 2013 the Holland Festival once again demonstrated its strengths, as an international, adventurous and multifaceted festival with a programme of the highest quality in all performing arts disciplines. During the month of June, performances, discussions, media attention and festival vibe came together to create a grand celebration of the arts. There was occasion for excitement, passion, surprise and reflection, and in some instances also for irritation or disappointment – after all, the Holland Festival is not shy of putting its head above the parapet. The high average seat occupancy (82%) demonstrates that the public knows about the festival and rates it highly. Some performances sold out before the premiere (e.g. Michel van der Aa’s Sunken Garden), others thrived after rave reviews of their first performance (e.g. The Wild Duck by Simon Stone and Belvoir). The presence of a large audience was sometimes more tangible than at other times: there were large scale productions at Carré (the veteran Algerian chaabi orchestra El Gusto, the circus theatre performance Hans was Heiri by Zimmermann & de Perrot, the screening of West Side Story with live music by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra); Brett Bailey’s theatrical installation Exhibit B, on the other hand, was a shocking confrontation with Europe’s and Africa’s colonial past which one experienced as an individual. This year, the festival highlighted music theatre. This was underlined by the choice of the opening performance, which was attended by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. Both the audience and the press were ecstatic about Italian composer Luca Francesconi’s opera Quartett, which was presented in a spectacular production by the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus for the Teatro alla Scala from Milan. “If this is the kind of quality that awaits us in this sixty-sixth edition of the Holland Festival (…) it will be a month to feast on,” wrote Trouw newspaper. Sunken Garden was also part of this focus on music theatre. It was the world’s first multimedia opera with 3d video and partly because of the very mixed reactions in the British press it became probably the most talked about performance of 2013 after its world premiere in London. Also featuring were Tragedy of a Friendship, Jan Fabre’s visually intense dispute with Wagner, and Desdemona, a social commentary on Shakespeare’s Othello by Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars and Rokia Traoré. And there was a striking world premiere in Rob Zuidam’s monodrama Troparion, paired in a double bill with his earlier work Suster Bertken, directed by Pierre Audi. The festival concluded with When the mountain changed its clothing, a performance about the journey towards adulthood, created by composer/director Heiner Goebbels in collaboration with the enchanting Slovenian girls’ choir Carmina Slovenica. Many performances implicitly or explicitly dealt with the functioning of society and the role art and/or the individual plays in this. In the field of theatre, this underlying theme featured at the Frascati Theatre in a series of three plays by three South-American stage directors who were still unknown to the Dutch audience: Cineastas by Mariano Pensotti, Tratando de hacer una obra que cambie el mundo by La Re-sentida and Prefiero que me quite el sueño Goya a que lo haga cualquier hijo de puta by Rodrigo García and Emilio García Wehbi. In Marktplaats 76 by Jan Lauwers and Needcompany the microcosm of a traumatised village community was given centre stage. The world premiere of Congolese theatre maker Dieudonné Niangouna’s new play Shéda gave rise to a great deal of debate: was it brilliant and 50 Terugblik 2013.indd 50 4-9-2013 13:57:35 Dionysian, or lengthy and too complex? The rise of Hitler was parodied in Bertolt Brecht’s Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui, presented by the Berliner Ensemble in Heiner Müller’s legendary staging, never before performed in the Netherlands. Theatre of Nations commented on the absurdities of modern day Russia in Circo Ambulante. But according to the Volkskrant newspaper the performance could also refer to Russia in the times of the Soviet Union, or even before. “This is what makes the performance fascinating, this versatility and the way in which this ensemble present it, time and time again triggering our imaginations ...” The highlights of the dance programme included L.A. Dance Project performing, amongst other pieces, a new choreography by artistic leader Benjamin Millepied; and Shen Wei’s Sacre du Printemps performed by Het Nationale Ballet. In El Djoudour choreographer Abou Lagraa focused on the relationship between man and woman in Islamic culture. Bruno Beltrão provided a spectacular mix of street dance, capoeira and modern dance in CRACKz (Dança morta). The music programme featured great diversity as well, ranging from El Gusto’s Algerian chaabi to progressive Irish folk by The Gloaming and from Morton Feldman’s intimate piano work For Bunita Marcus, played by Reinbert de Leeuw with the utmost concentration in front of a breathless audience, to the complex and large scale instrumental cycle Nine Rivers by James Dillon, performed with amazing acuteness by Asko|Schönberg, Slagwerk Den Haag, Cappella Amsterdam and conductor/percussionist Steven Schick. John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra broadcast by ntr as part of their ZaterdagMatinee, made a huge impression. And whoever thought he knew the music of Mahler was persuaded to listen afresh, thanks to East-Tyrolean ‘Musicabanda’ Franui. Not many performances at the festival were constrained to a single art form. Two of the performances which explicitly sought to cross the boundaries of the various disciplines were The Pyre, in which Gisèle Vienne combined dance and the art of lighting, and shirokuro, with pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, choreographer Nicole Beutler and light and stage designer Jean Kalman following the lead of Galina Ustvolskaya’s violent music. Composer/band leader Darcy James Argue and graphic artist Danijel Zezelj combined innovative big band jazz, gritty graphic novel art and live painting to create Brooklyn Babylon. Visual artist and musician Christian Marclay took centre stage in two of his works where he combined live improv music with moving images, his characteristic collages of movie clips creating “magic moments which were fully exploited by the musicians,” according to nrc Handelsblad newspaper. In connection with these performances the audience could choose to attend introductions, interviews, debates and ‘meet the artist’ events, or take part in sing-along or acrobatic workshops. Many of these activities were free of charge, as were the live screening of De Nederlandse Opera’s production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on a big screen at the Oosterpark, the late night performances at the DoubleTree Hotel’s SkyLounge (which is still resonating from the performance by the musicians of Shéda) and the lunch-time concerts, which were staged in the famous underpass of the Rijksmuseum. Students of the Royal Conservatory of the Hague attracted large crowds with a musical programme performed on two moving bicycle constructions. 51

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Nine Rivers
by James Dillon

Marathon performance of Scottish composer James Dillon’ masterpiece – a unique experience.

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El Gusto - Casbah Blues

Deep-rooted Algerian songs which make you forget hunger and thirst.

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Hans was Heiri
by Zimmermand & de Perrot

Virtuoso movement theater for everyone.

Brooklyn Babylon (2011-11-09) by Danijel Zezelj, Darcy James ArgueHolland Festival

Brooklyn Babylon
by Danijel Zezelj, Darcy James Argue

Groundbreaking big band music from the heart of Brooklyn, New York.

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The Wild Duck
by Simon Stone

Refreshing Australian adaptation of Ibsen's devastating family drama.

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Exhibit B
by Brett Bailey

Sharp indictment of the abuses during the colonial period.

L.A. Dance Project (2013-05-23) by Benjamin MillepiedHolland Festival

L.A. Dance Project
by Benjamin Millepied

American dance icon Benjamin Millepied presented his new project in Amsterdam.

Sunken Garden (2013-04-12) by Michel van der AaHolland Festival

Sunken Garden
by Michel van der Aa

Deception, manipulation and mysticism in Michel van der Aa's multimedia opera.

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When the mountain changed its clothing
by Heiner Goebbels, Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica

Heiner Goebbels explores the fascinating and forbidding realm of puberty.

Credits: Story

Artistic director Holland Festival 2005 - 2014:
Pierre Audi

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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