Published on: 11 March 2019

Operadagen Rotterdam: innovating and connecting

Operadagen Rotterdam: innovating and connecting

Tenant in the spotlight

Opera does not directly come to mind when thinking about Rotterdam. Operadagen Rotterdam is here to change that. This annual opera festival with a Rotterdam touch has been organised since 2005. Ten days of modern, innovative and ground-breaking performances by international and national top artists and young adventurous performance creators. The festival consists of more than 100 performances. Not just in the well-known theatres but also in surprising places such as shops, warehouses, the port and, this year, at the Groot Handelsgebouw!

‘The city is not just the stage but also a source of inspiration.’

Typical of Rotterdam

Guy Coolen was involved in Operadagen Rotterdam since the very beginning. He has been the Artistic Director since 2009. “We wanted the festival to be innovative and original. That fits in with a creative city such as Rotterdam. The city is not just the stage but also a source of inspiration. Known operas are given a makeover and new creators are given the chance to prove themselves during the festival. People always believed opera was elitist. Rediscovering opera means it is once again cool and fresh. This development is interesting especially when you know that the first operas were performed in living rooms. It was not elitist at the time, opera was performed in an intimate setting, near the audience.”

Shared experience

“I believe opera to be the ultimate performing art,” Guy explains enthusiastically. “Opera consists of music, architecture, theatre, drama, text and singing. When everything works together it changes you. People have predicted that music will eventually no longer be performed live but I do not believe this. Music and songs are universal. Even when you do not understand the texts, the music can touch your heart. This is especially true for a live performance where you feel a connection with the people around you. At times you even feel intensive happiness!”

“I believe opera to be the ultimate performing art.’

A plea for love and tolerance

The story of Orpheus is the central theme of Operadagen this year. “The story is about the ultimate lovers, Orpheus and Eurydice. What makes such stories special is that these exist in various cultures. In Arabic, there is a similar story about the lovers Layla and Majnun. This year we will work on a large-scale city project called “Orpheus and Majnun”. We are organising a large-scale parade in collaboration with youth and amateur groups from various cultures. The parade starts at the Groot Handelsgebouw on Stationsplein and finishes at the Schouwburgplein. Dozens of clubs and communities take part. It will be a lovely plea for love and tolerance,” says Guy with pride.

Operadagen Rotterdam in the Groot Handelsgebouw

This year the Groot Handelsgebouw will be one of the stages during the Operadagen Rotterdam. After special performances at Fit For Free and The Stairs, we will host this years event in the ballroom at the 8th floor. As a warm-up for the festival we organize a living room concert XL. More information will follow as soon as possible.


Operadagen Rotterdam | Unit D5.138
Photo: Antim Photography | Unit E1.174.2

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