On the eve of Rotterdam’s Opera Days festival (20-29 May) our guest was theatre and opera director Johan Simons. Wilfried de Jong talked with him about (music) theatre as gesamtkunstwerk and the role of the director and the stage designer.
Simons is a defining figure in the international theatre world. In 2017 he will join Theater Rotterdam, a collective of several Rotterdam-based theatre companies. He talked about his work, his sources of inspiration and his vision of stage design. To coincide with the Opera Days festival, Het Nieuwe Instituut is exhibiting the set that artist Ai Weiwei made for the opera As Big as the Sky, which premiered at the Holland Festival in 2015.
At 19.30 The set for As Big as the Sky opened
Johan Simons is artistic director of the Ruhr Triënnale (2015-2017) and was previously artistic director of NTGent (2005-2010) and the Münchner Kammerspiele (2010-2015). Simons is trained as a dancer at the Rotterdam academy and as an actor at the Theatre Academy in Maastricht. In 1985 he co-founded the theatre company Hollandia together with musician Paul Koek, directing rural plays by Franz Xaver Kroetz and Herbert Achternbusch and classics such as The Persians by Aeschylus in locations such as an industrial greenhouse, a fish market and a car breaker’s yard. His international breakthrough came in 2001 with an international tour of Visconti’s The Damned. He has directed plays and operas in Salzburg, Avignon and Paris. In 2014 he received the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund Prize for his services to theatre at home and abroad.
Wilfried de Jong
Wilfried de Jong is an actor, television presenter and writer. His television programmes include Sportpaleis de Jong, Holland Sport and 24 uur met... He is the author of several books and has written for NRC Handelsblad. In 2011 he interviewed Johan Simons in a highly praised episode of Zomergasten.