Ritratto (Opera Forward Festival)
An exhibition in Venice of all the portraits of Luisa Casati inspired Willem Jeths to create Ritratto, or 'Portrait'. An exuberantly designed opera full of humour, with costumes by Jan Taminiau. About 'living work of art' Luisa Casati, the extravagant and puissantly rich marquise who was the muse of countless artists.
Duration 1 hour 15 minutes
A living work of art
The inspiration for Willem Jeths’ third opera, Ritratto (‘Portrait’), was Luisa Casati. One life-size portrait of her by Giovanni Boldini was included in the exhibition High Society at the Rijksmuseum (2018) and a whole show in Venice was dedicated to portraits of her.
Luisa Casati Stampa di Soncino (1881–1957) led a life of wealth and extravagance in high-society Paris, Venice and Rome, where she surrounded herself with prominent artists, following her motto: ‘I want to be a living work of art’. She had a turbulent relationship with Gabriele d’Annunzio, Léon Bakst designed exotic dresses for her, and she commissioned countless portraits of herself by artists including Kees van Dongen, Filippo Marinetti, Man Ray, Romaine Brooks and Giovanni Boldini.
In composing operas such as Ritratto, Willem Jeths – who was the Netherlands’ first national composer between 2014 and 2016 – manipulates orchestral colours and deliberately selects timbres to match his protagonists. ‘I’m convinced that music can be stronger and more expressive if people can relate to it.’
Marcel Sijm’s productions combine an element of surprise with plenty of humour and an emphasis on splashy design, as exemplified by his collaboration with set designer Marc Warning for Legende. In this opera, we can look forward to costumes designed by Jan Taminiau, whose creations include the famous blue cloak that Queen Máxima wore at King Willem-Alexander’s coronation.
Dutch National Opera Studio
Dutch National Opera Studio was launched on 1 September 2018 as an intensive training programme for six talented young vocalists and one répétiteur. Under the inspiring direction of soprano Rosemary Joshua, it strives to bridge conservatories and professional practice, providing a showcase for young talent at a myriad of events and venues from lunchtime concerts to the main stage.
The Netherlands’ only string orchestra for 30 years already, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta consists of 22 musicians led by violinist and artistic director Candida Thompson. The ensemble’s repertoire spans a wide spectrum of musical styles from Baroque to contemporary. In the 2019-2020, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta is accompanying Willem Jeths’ Ritratto.
concept & direction Marcel Sijm Libretto, Frank Siera
team, cast and choir:
musical direction Geoffrey Paterson
direction Marcel Sijm
set Marcel Warning
costumes Jan Taminiau
light Alex Brok
dramaturg Klaus Bertisch
Orkest Amsterdam Sinfonietta Luisa C.S. di Soncino, Julietta Aleksanyan - De Nationale Opera Studio, Romaine Brooks, Polly Leech - De Nationale Opera Studio, Garbi, Martin Mkhize - De Nationale Opera Studio, Sergei Diaghilev, Lucas van Lierop, Man Ray, Cameron Shahbazi, Jacob Epstein, Frederik Bergman, Kees van Dongen, Dominic Kraemer