Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen is the only opera company in the Flanders region. Since January 2014 it forms the biggest cultural institution of Flanders, after a successful merger between the Flemish Opera and Royal Ballet Flanders. The company has three theatres: Opera Antwerp, Opera Ghent and Theater ‘t Eilandje Antwerp. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has its own Symphonic Orchestra, Chorus, Children’s Chorus and Ballet. The company performs the whole opera repertoire from the baroque to the contemporary and presents both the classics and the lesser known titles. Opera Vlaanderen wants to present opera as a living art form and links opera to today’s world in opinionated productions.
Jan Vandenhouwe took on artistic leadership of opera in season 2019-2020, while Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is artistic director ballet. Alejo Pérez is Chief Conductor since season 2019-2020, following Dmitri Jurowski who was Chief Conductor from 2011 till 2016. Under previous artistic leader Aviel Cahn, the house staged a lot of controversial productions like Samson et Dalila, staged by the Israeli-Palestinian duo Omri Nitzan and Amir Nizar Zuabi and several productions by Peter Konwitschny (Don Carlos, Aida, La Juive) and Calixto Bieito (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Lady Macbeth from the Mtsensk District, Tannhäuser). Opera Ballet Vlaanderen also introduced some directors who were new to the opera world like Stef Lernous from Abattoir Fermé (L’Intruse, Tristan und Isolde), ex-Monthy Python Terry Gilliam (La Damnation de Faust) and two times Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Der Rosenkavalier).
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen regularly commissions new opera like The Rage of Life (by composer Elena Katz-Chernin), L’Intruse (composer Dirk d’Ase) and Rumor (composer Christian Jost). In 2012 composer Giorgio Battistelli was asked to complete Donizetti’s unfinished Le Duc d’Albe. In 2019 Opera Ballet Vlaanderen premiered the controversial Les Bienveillantes, a creation by Héctor Parra to a libretto by Händl Klaus.
Apart from opera productions Opera Ballet Vlaanderen also presents several concerts with a focus on the vocal aspect like Rossini’s Stabat Mater (with Alberto Zedda) and Mahler’s 3rd and 4th Symphony (with Eliahu Inbal). Opera Ballet Vlaanderen regularly issues CDs and DVDs from its own productions, organises international symposiums and offers an elaborate side programme with lectures, productions for children, guided tours etc. All this contributes to the fact that Opera Ballet Vlaanderen has built up a broad and young audience.