One of the first things that stands out in Dutch National Opera’s 2017-18 season is the sheer number of new productions it is fielding. There are an astonishing eleven new productions next season – either completely new or co-productions which are new to Amsterdam  – with just three revivals. This is a situation which other opera companies around the world must envy.

Verdi’s La forza del destino is a difficult opera. It contains fabulous music, especially the three confrontations between Don Alvaro and his nemesis, Don Carlo, but the plot sprawls, presenting its own challenges to the director. Christof Loy quite often pares operas to their bare essentials, so how he works his approach on Forza could be fascinating. Local favourite Eva-Maria Westbroek stars as Leonora, the woman whose secret lover (Alvaro) accidentally kills her father (the Marquis of Calatrava), thus setting off a devastating series of events as her brother (Carlo) seeks revenge.

<i>Tristan und Isolde</i> at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées © Vincent Pontet
Tristan und Isolde at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
© Vincent Pontet
Pierre Audi adds another Wagner production to his roster at DNO – Tristan und Isolde with Stephen Gould and Ricarda Merbeth in the title roles in a production recently seen in Paris and Rome. Marc Albrecht has a reputation as a fine Wagnerian and conducts the Nehterlands Philharmonic, which bears the bulk of the workload for the Opera this season.

German director Jan Philipp Gloger pairs two operas set in Florence: Alexander Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy and Puccini’s riotous comedy Gianni Schicchi. Based on Oscar Wilde’s unfinished play, Zemlinsky’s opera is a dark tale of betrayal and murder. Simone, a Florentine merchant, discovers his wife, Bianca, is having an affair with Prince Guido. He challenges Guido to a duel, which he eventually wins by strangling the prince, finally earning admiration from Bianca as the curtain falls. Puccini’s one-acter couldn’t be more different. Gianni Schicchi, based on an incident in Dante’s Divine Comedy, is one of the few genuinely funny operas in the repertoire. Massimo Cavalletti plays the wily Gianni, who cons his way into a fortune.

Tobias Kratzer directs a new production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, in which John Osborn takes on the role of the tortured poet, relating stories of his doomed love affairs. The four lovers are sometimes played by the same soprano, but the vocal requirements are so different that it’s rare to find one soprano capable of doing justice to them all. In Amsterdam, three singers are cast: Nina Minasyan as the doll Olympia, Ermonela Jaho as the fragile Antonia, and mezzo Christine Rice as the courtesan Giulietta, a role she sang with great success recently in London.

<i>Eliogabalo</i> at Opéra de Paris © Agathe Poupeney | Opéra national de Paris
Eliogabalo at Opéra de Paris
© Agathe Poupeney | Opéra national de Paris
Early Music nuts will want to catch Cavalli’s Eliogabalo. Thomas Jolly’s production was seen in Paris this season and transfers to Amsterdam in October with a cast led by thrilling Argentinian countertenor Franco Fagioli. 

The Rake’s Progress is directed by Simon McBurney in a production which premieres at Festival d’Aix this summer (and with the same cast). Stravinsky’s opera, loosely based on a series of engravings by William Hogarth, charts the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, who deserts Anne Truelove for the delights offered him by devil-in-disguise, Nick Shadow.

Another new production to have its premiere in one of the summer festivals is Peter Sellars’ take on La clemenza di Tito, which opens at Salzburg in July 2017. Sellars has history with Mozart – his quirky productions of the Da Ponte trilogy were iconic in the 1980s. Here, he joins forces with maverick Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis who conducts his terrific band MusicAeterna. Exciting tenor Russell Thomas takes the title role in both Salzburg and Amsterdam.

<i>Mata Hari</i> © Marc Haegeman
Mata Hari
© Marc Haegeman
Another highlight of the season will doubtless be George Benjamin’s new opera Lessons in Love and Violence, which will just have premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in May 2018. It shares several ingredients with Benjamin’s previous hit Written on Skin: Martin Crimp provides the libretto, Katie Mitchell directs and soprano Barbara Hannigan creates a key role. If lightning strikes twice, it should be terrific. Other operas receiving new productions include Henze’s The Raft of Medusa, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and James MacMillan’s Clemency.

Dutch National Ballet celebrates Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen’s 85th birthday with a season opening gala and a programme ‘Ode to the Master’ containing four of his works, including On the Move and 5 Tangos.

In the same season as Pierre Audi’s new production of Wagner’s opera, a ballet version of Tristan and Isolde – to music composed by Szymon Brzóska rather than Wagner – arrives, choreographed by David Dawson. Tristan + Isolde premiered at Dresden’s Semperoper Ballett in 2015.

Other dance highlights include revivals of Ted Brandsen’s Mata Hari, which premiered last season, Don Quichotte and The Sleeping Beauty, which offers festive fare in December.

Click here for full Dutch National listings. 


Preview sponsored by Dutch National Opera