75-year Holland Festival celebrated a festive anniversary

75-year Holland Festival celebrated a festive anniversary

July 1, 2022

The 75th edition of the Holland Festival was closed on Sunday June 26th with Kein Licht from director and associate artist Nicolas Stemann in collaboration with composer Philippe Manoury, together with the theatre marathon The Nation from director Eric de Vroedt.

This year, there was a central role for two charismatic and inspiring associate artists: the French-Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo (1960) and the German theatre director Nicolas Stemann (1968). Representation and the climate featured centrally as themes in the work of both associates and that of many other festival artists. These themes were also explored in-depth in an exhibition, conversations with artists and in Manifesto for the living in a time of extinction: an eight-day programme about climate change in a greenhouse built for this specific purpose by ROEF on the roof of the Q-Park Westergasfabriek parking garage.

Facts and figures 
From 3 through 26 June, the Holland Festival presented a total of 33 productions with 106 performances, which included 7 world premieres and 16 Dutch premieres. 

Remarkable pieces 
With this edition, the festival was finally able to fully do what it was meant to do since its founding in 1947: bring people together to experience live performances from the Netherlands and abroad. During the opening concert Mother Nature, Angélique Kidjo had everyone in the Carré theatre dancing and singing with her energetic stage personality. Her concert Ifé in The Concertgebouw - which included Philip Glass’ title piece composed on the basis of Kidjo’s poems - was a great success as well. Themes like the climate crisis, identity politics and representation featured prominently in the pieces from Nicolas Stemann, Der Besuch der alten Dame, Contre-enquêtes and Kein Licht. (2011/2012/2017). One of the audience favourites, Sami Yusuf, more than lived up to his enthusiastic audience’s expectations with When Paths Meet, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra and Cappella Amsterdam. The sold-out concert was broadcast by the NTR and immediately drew 243,000 viewers. The Cherry Orchard (La Cerisaie), in an adaptation by director Tiago Rodrigues featuring star actress Isabelle Huppert, was also well-received. A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, a production from the Holland Festival in collaboration with Frascati Producties, was the Dutch interpretation of the sustainable theatre concept of the same name from director Katie Mitchell. During the two club evenings in nightclub Lofi and an evening in De Melkweg, (dance) audiences were exposed to artists from a range of places, including Uganda, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenia and Nigeria.  

Complex times 
Apart from these successes, the festival unfortunately had to cancel two productions. The large-scale film installation Euphoria from Julian Rosefeldt could not be completed in time because the artist was filming in Ukraine and working with a Ukrainian film crew. Rosefeldt was forced to leave the country because of the Russian invasion. The music theatre piece Yemandja from Angélique Kidjo went on as planned, but as a consequence of the war that had broken out by then the sets and costumes did not arrive in time, and the piece was staged in a more sober form. The Murder of Halit Yozgat from Ben Frost was cancelled because of COVID infections in the technical team.  

Anniversary
Besides the stream of the opera Der Freischütz, an extra, freely accessible Opera in the park,  chosen by the audience, was broadcast especially for the anniversary edition. Television clips of festival highlights throughout the years were collected under the name ‘Holland Festival Parels’ (‘Holland Festival Gems). And besides the festive flags and a ‘festival tram’, Amsterdam also featured a special poster route with historic photo material. 

Accessibility 
The percentage of students and CJP (Cultural Youth Passport) holders in attendance rose substantially during this edition. The festival was able to reach both returning as well as new target groups. This was very apparent in the venues, where audiences of different ages and cultural backgrounds came together. Exchanges between different (cultural) worlds were possible in the many receptions surrounding performances and programme parts in which makers met each other and their audiences.