Holland inserts a summer rarity

Holland inserts a summer rarity


norman lebrecht

March 09, 2021

Dutch National Opera, which shut down its current season at the weekend, had a surprise up its sleeve.

At the Holland Festival in June it will present Die ersten Menschen by Rudi Stephan, a young German composer who was killed in the First World War, aged 28.

The production is directed by Calixto Bieito, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by François-Xavier Roth and singers Kyle Ketelsen, Annette Dasch, Leigh Melrose and John Osborn.

The opening night will be streamed live and the company is hoping things might have improved enough by June to permit a imited audience.



  • RW2013 says:

    Long overdue for this excellent opera, as is a production of d’Albert’s Kain.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      I second your comment, RW2013.
      Does the Concertgebouw Orch. often perform operas with the Dutch National Opera, or at the Holland Festival? I can’t offhand think of one recorded opera set with the RCO.

      • Eric says:

        The Holland Festival features one opera every year and the Concertgebouw Orch. is always in the pit. There was a Don Carlo with Villazon and Urmana IN 2004 which used to be available as a DVD.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Oh dear. Here is an opera hardly anyone knows, so it deserves a production that hews pretty closely to the composer’s and librettist’s intent. Why do I suspect that Bieito might not be the one to fit that bill?

    I’ve only heard Stephan’s orchestral music, which seems to occupy Max Reger – Franz Schmidt territory. It would be interesting to hear his opera.

  • yujafan says:

    Looks fascinating, and it’s fabulous to see some great artists giving it strong advocacy. Looking forward to this.

  • Edgar Selff says:

    Rudi Stephan’s opera “Die ersten Menschen” is an enterprising choice, worth hearing. There’s a good recording on CD. Fischer-Dieskau and Furtwaengler performed his music, and FiDi recorded some of it.