Opera ballet

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Announces Lineup and Direction Changes for Fall 2020

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has announced a reshuffle at the head of the company and presents an alternative autumn program with concerts and intimate recitals. Flanders’ biggest cultural institution hopes to bring back opera and dance productions from January 2021.

Now that Jan Raes has been appointed managing director of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, further changes at the top are announced.

Jan Vandenhouwe, who was artistic director opera, will now be artistic director opera and ballet. He will develop the artistic policy for the whole company.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui remains with the company as artistic director of the ballet but will focus more on his role as artist, choreographer and inspiration. In the following years, he will create three new works for the company. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen will also continue to cherish its repertoire.

Alejo Pérez remains musical director and Kiki Vervloessem, who until now has been a business manager, will now be deputy general manager. A new dance manager will be recruited to support the dance company and the artistic director.

From the start of the merger that eventually formed Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, opera and dance have sought an identity, of sorts, as art forms. They embarked on this adventure with their audience. The compelling positioning of the Ballet through the work of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui allows Opera Ballet Vlaanderen to position itself today as a diverse and hybrid artistic institution. Since his appointment, Jan Vandenhouwe has underlined this hybridity, without losing sight of the autonomy of these art forms with recent productions such as Rusalka (directed by choreographer Alan Lucien Øyen) and planned productions such as C(H)OEURS 2020 by Alain Platel and Cosi fan tutte directed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaecker. In the years to come, the artistic vision of combining opera and dance in hybrid productions will be pursued.

Fall 2020 alternative program

Theaters in Belgium are reopening cautiously.

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen was one of the first companies to close completely in March 2020 and has since announced that it will not produce large-scale productions until the end of this year. The financial consequences of the confinement period are still under consideration, but so far Opera Ballet Vlaanderen reports a loss of income of 3 million euros.

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, which won the coveted Company of the Year award at last year’s International Opera Awards, will reopen its opera house in Antwerp on September 24 with the Mozart De Luxe concert.

They can currently only accommodate 200 spectators in their rooms. Their intention is to gradually increase this number to around 600 seats in Antwerp and 500 in Ghent. Of course, the public will have to observe the necessary safety measures such as social distancing and wearing mouth masks. Intermissions are not possible at this time and their homes will remain closed for the time being.

This fall, the company will present an alternative live program with intimate concerts with music by WA Mozart, Leos Janáček, Arnold Schönberg and Franz Shubert and recitals featuring Belgian talents with whom the company already has a strong connection: Liesbeth Devos, Denzil Delaere, Tineke van Ingelgem and Lore Binon.

Their first Mozart de Luxe concert will take place on September 24 with Mozart concert arias performed by Chia-Fen Wu (soprano), accompanied by Kristie Su (violin) and Pedro Beriso (piano).

During the confinement, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has also developed a new platform which will be called Vonk.

Vonk (or Spark) is the start of something new. Vonk will be a space for new talent to experiment and welcome their highly diverse society with an open mind. Vonk loves working with unusual partners or art forms and gives them the opportunity to explore the rich history of opera and ballet/dance and take the art form in a new direction. Vonk will also operate in unexpected places that sometimes need a moment of beauty. In the coming months, performances in hospitals or a prison are planned.

But stimulating productions are also in development. This fall, for example, will see the premiere of A Revue by self-proclaimed buffoon Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe. Billed as “a retro futuristic cabaret”, A Revue explores what will happen with the opera genre in 2000 years.

Director Dounia Mahammed and filmmaker Lukas Dhont – who achieved worldwide recognition with his film Girl – will create an outdoor show: The Parade of Consolation, which will be a real parade. Inspired by the many artists who during their confinement performed on their balconies, this parade wants to bring daily opera and dance to the streets. Musicians, dancers and singers will perform on a float that will parade through the neighborhoods of the cities of Antwerp and Ghent. People will be able to discover opera and dance in complete safety from their living room. The parade will be led by maestro Alejo Pérez and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Choreolab will be the first production to return. Choreolab offers dancers from Opera Ballet Vlaanderen the opportunity to discover their talents as choreographers. This year Choreolab will have its fifteenth edition.

Over the past few months, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has launched several short dance and opera videos on its digital platforms under the banner #imaginationisalive. They will continue this series of video performances in the months to come.

Opera Ballet Vlaanderen intends to resume presenting opera and dance productions from January 2021 depending on the evolution of the pandemic. More information on the program in 2021 will follow in the coming months.

From now on it’s up and up.

Visit their website for the full fall schedule.