Kim and I went to the opera yesterday. It was Opera Zuid again, but this time they were performing The Barber of Sevilla. I picked Kim up from work and we took a bus to the city centre. We had originally planned to eat at the newly opened La Place. Kim, however, preferred somewhere where they would bring our food. I though that was a splendid idea so we went in search for another place to eat. We picked De Kostery but it was closing, which is weird for a place that loudly displays outside that they serve dinner… We then tried Het Feithhuis. This was a long shot as it’s quite popular and generally requires a reservation. And indeed, they had no table. So we settled on the Drie Gezusters. I’d been there before, but never to eat.
They have a pretty basic, but good, menu. I’d wanted to go for steak but then I spotted Moroccan lamb stew with sweet potato and went for that. It was very tasty. It came with a wedge of water melon, which was a nice refresher at the end. The sides we’re also good: well done fries in the skin, steamed cauliflower and broccoli and some salad. I skipped that last one for I was getting quite full. For dessert I chose a wentelteefje (aka French toast) made from suikerbrood (sugar bread) with cinnamon ice cream and whipped cream. Delicious.
After dinner we made our way to the theater on foot. Joran, our friend from work was also coming with his girlfriend. We met up at the theater. It was their first time at the Schouwburg in Groningen so we showed them some of the places to sit and where to enter to get to their seats.
The opera it self was, musically speaking, very good. The orchestra (Philharmonie Zuidnederland) played very well, and the players were great. The color of voice of the woman singing Rosina (Romie Estèves) was a bit too shrill for my tastes. Technically, though, she was very good. Both Figaro (Luthando Qave) and the Count Almaviva (Juraj Holly) were fantastic.
What I liked less was the staging. Instead of taking the story and playing it as is, the directors modernised it. In was now place in a Spa in Sevilla where the people would come to enjoy luxurious excesses and vices. This had some of the ensemble performers playing sniffing coke of a hand mirror, both supplied by Figaro. Old Doctor Bartolo lives next to this spa. And the old time soldiers become a modern cross between military and private security. This leads to Rosina singing an aria in a bikini and Figaro doing modern dance moves during his.
After the show we briefly met up with Joran again to compare experiences and say goodbye. We were in no particular rush, the train was gone anyway, but they had to leave. We then grabbed a bus back to the station where we had to wait an hour for our train. Luckily the Burger King was open so we indulged in some nuggets and a hot blondie. The train showed up early so we could wait the last fifteen minutes or so in more comfort.
Picture (credit: Joost Milde/Opera Zuid) shows Almaviva on the left in his disguise as Don Alfonso, Rosina being choke held by Doctor Bartolo and Figaro trying to restrain him.
The Warcraft movie is finally out, so of course I immediately went to see it. I had ordered a special movie package online that has a steel case blu-ray (gets sent on release) plus a code for a free warcraft game and a code for a free movie ticket. I have my Pathé Unlimited so I gave the free ticket to Nienke and she came along.
The movie itself is good. It has some points for improvement. For example, they’re trying to show a lot and give a lot of information. For those unfamiliar with the game and its world that can cause overload. But overall it is a good fantasy movie, and a great video game movie.
Thursday was theater-day. Mom and I had tickets to go see Opera Zuid perform La Bohème. They did a straight forward adaptation, no changes to time or place. The staging was basic in structure and filled in with details to make it look real. Which worked very well. The performances were very good. I definitely want to go see this company again.
Today, Gert and I popped over to Amsterdam to see the Warcraft movie in IMAX 3D. It was great fun, but I really don’t see the added value of IMAX 3D. I had to keep my head still and in the exact same position all the time or I would see double. And everything is so blown up that every panning shot was just a blurry mess.
After the movie we had a quick fast food dinner and hopped on the train back home.
Just got back from the theater where I saw Daniel Lohues perform. He has a new album out, Aosem, and he played songs from that, together with choice numbers from earlier albums. Daniel is always good. His songs are great and he is a fantastic storyteller. The only thing that I liked less is that the songs from the older albums were mostly the same ones he did last year when he was touring his previous album. His repertoire is so large, he could’ve easily changed up some more songs for variety.
Mom was supposed to go with me. But there was prediction of real bad weather, so she decided not to go. I said, fuck it, and hopped on the train and went anyway 😀
The weather turned out to be just fine. It rained quite a lot, apparently, but that was while I was inside the Theater. During my moments of transit, everything was peachy.
Thursday, Mom and I went to Appingedam for some shopping. The thrift store there is amazing, I’m in love. It’s huge, spread out over two floors, and has a very large book section. We also walked through town a bit and saw, among other things, the famous hanging kitchens.
Caligula is a play written by Albert Camus just before World War two. It tells the story of the cruel Roman Emperor Caligula. He loses his sister and lover Drusilla and cannot deal with this. After wandering in the fields for three days he returns with an absolutist world view. Unable to deal with the relativitiy of everything, and most notably, happiness, he enters a reign of terror.
Everything becomes literal, freedom absolute. If a man desires his neighbour’s wife, he takes her. And if the neighbour stands in the way, everything is valid to remove the neighbour as an obstacle. Caligula’s word becomes literal law, marked by randomness and terror. In between these scenes, there’s moments where Caligula speaks with his mistress or one of his advisers and we get philosophical musings about the nature of existence.
I saw it yesterday, in the Schouwburg, performed by the Toneelhuis.
Because the play was originally performed for the first time after the World War, it has generally been interpreted as indictment against abuse of power and dictatorship. With the current international climate of extremism it’s gained a new poignancy.
I enjoyed the modern touches in appearance and set-dressing. The use of movable video panels as a sort of ceiling/back panel was very effective in framing the stage. The actors were really good, in particular Kevin Janssens as Caligula.
Showtime again 🙂 This time around it was Jochem Myjer performing his latest show at MartiniPlaza. Mom wanted to go to this so I agreed. I generally like Jochem Myjer, but sometimes it’s a bit too much for me. So I wasn’t sure what I’d think of a live show. Luckily, it turned out to be a great show. Too bad about the seats being so far away. The show sold out so fast that by the time I ordered these were one of the few still available.
The stage was empty except for this giant head. At first I was confused and thought it was former Queen Beatrix. But then the lights got better and I realised it was an oversized bust of Jochem himself. When the show started, he came out of the bust at the head.
The show itself was a mixture of his regular physical comedy but this time around interspersed with serious bits. The skeleton of the show was him reading from his hospital journal when he was being treated for a tumour in his back. From the journal he would side step to flashbacks of his youth and other bits where he could be more physical. He did imitations, sang songs, and ran around the stage.
All the while, the head was used as an almost living piece of decor. Visual effects were shown on the head and sometimes Jochem would disappear in and reappear from the head.
I really enjoyed the show. It was very nice to see him being serious occasionally, it allows a different peek into who he is.
Yay, my Oosterpoort & Schouwburg theatre tickets for the coming season have arrived! I have eight shows in the Oosterpoort and the Schouwburg to go to, and then there’s also two shows in MartiniPlaza this year.
Today was father’s day. Mom was away to spend the day at my aunt’s so I headed over to my parent’s house to hang out with dad. I brought a nice drink and cake and we spend the afternoon watching sports on TV. Not normally something I enjoy, but it was tennis first and show jumping afterwards. Tennis is okayish, but I do love watching show jumping. It was a good day.
Yesterday evening I attended an open air performance in town of a play about the Ripperda’s. The Ripperda’s were an influential family in the area back in the 16th century. Told from the point of view of daughter of the family, Johanna, the play chronicles about 15 years in their lives. The play was comedic in nature and uses modern things in places for humourous effect.
The town square of Winsum, circa 1565. It is market day, except there’s nothing to sell as it is only allowed to sell wares at the market in Groningen. The people are poor, and even the Ripperda’s, in charge of town, are having trouble. Asinge is the eldest, he runs things with help of his brother Peter. They have a sister, Johanna, who is still unmarried. To safeguard their property and interests, Johanna is to be married off. Her husband to be is a German noble who will come for her later.
The coach of the Ripperda’s arrives to bring home the other brothers of the family: Wigbolt and Onno. They have been studying abroad for several years and became Calvinists. This is risky as most of the North is the hands of Catholics at this time. They also brought a friend of theirs, Rennenberg, from Flanders.
The townspeople already hate the citizens of Groningen and the Catholics so they follow the brothers in Calvinism. They lure the Catholic monks from their monastery under the guise of a party in their honor. While the monks are on the square, the monastery is invaded, trashed and emptied of valuables. The monks are then tarred, with cheese, and feathered. Shortly after, Onno and Wigbolt leave to join the war efforts in the 80-year war.
While waiting for Johanna’s fiance to show up, she grew closer to Rennenberg the Fleming. Despite their love being mutual (culminating in a one-night stand). She fulfills her duty and marries Folkmar von Beninga. He’s a fat, older man who smells of bratwurst. His demented old mother has also come along for the wedding. She keeps forgetting why she’s there and does not believe that Folkmar is actually getting married.
After Onno and Wigbolt’s departure, the remaining brothers fight the good fight closer to home. As this is seen as heresy, Asinge and Peter are to be arrested. Luckily, with some advanced warning, the brothers escape. They leave directly after the wedding and go back to Germany with Folkmar and his mother. As the coach is full, Johanna stays behind, promising to come as soon as possible. Folkmar dies shortly after returning home, never having seen his wife again.
12 years later, it is now 1580. Johanna is the only Ripperda of her generation left. All her brothers have died, all through beheading, either in battle or as punishment. Johanna has a roughly 12 year old son. Everyone thinks he’s Folkmar’s but we all know he’s really the result of the one-night-stand with Rennenberg.
Technically Asinge’s son Focko is the heir to the Ripperda estate. However, he’s mentally not all there so in reality Johanna and her sister-in-law Bauwe run the place. The people of Groningen and the Spaniards are at the doorstep, wanting to annex Winsum. To help fight them, Johanna’s sends a letter to her uncle Johan van Ewsum to come with an army. The mailcoach leaves immediately.
Johan comes to help his niece and brings along a contingent of Scottish warriors. He is ready to fight the Spaniards!
Johanna tries to convince him that he does not need to go into battle, he just needs to defend the town. Johan will not budge, tomorrow they will go.
The Scotsmen get along great with the townspeople. Except they have gone out plundering nearby farms and Johanna is ill pleased with this. After arguing with Johan, he decides to leave to fight the Spaniards elsewhere. A few of the Scotsmen stay behind, though. They have found love 🙂
Rennenberg returns to town. He is stadtholder of Groningen by now and has been sent to annex Winsum, whether they want to, or not. After reuniting with Johanna, he chooses her and the town over Groningen. Groningen retaliates and attacks. The Spanish commander Verdugo invades the town with an army of Frisians. Winsum burns.
The villagers have been corralled off to the side while Verdugo searches for Rennenberg.
Through a ruse the villagers manage to send the cheese monger to warn Rennenberg. The cheese monger gives Rennenberg his clothes so Verdugo won’t recognise him. The next morning, after the Verdugo and his army have left, Rennenberg and Johanna reunite.
Rennenberg proposes to Johanna. Marry him and come live in his manor in Groningen.
Johanna speaks to her son, Hendrik. She tells him the Ripperda’s have a mission. It is their duty to care for the Winsum and its people. To attain good positions in life, make good deals and through this make the town prosper. She refuses Rennenberg, her place is here. Together with Hendrik they will rebuild Winsum.
Shakespeare’s King Lear is an elderly king who decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters. He asks them to declare their love for him, the best declaration gets the biggest iece. The elder two children do so, but the youngest refuses to play this game. Angrily, King Lear gives her share to her sisters and she leaves for France with her new husband. The remaining sisters immediately show their true natures and treat their father like an old man, and even planning to murder him. During this, Lear flees the house in a great storm and loses his mind.
The youngest daughter plans to invade the realm to help her father and defeat her sisters, but she is captures and sentenced to death. The other daughters then destroy each other in jealousy over the same man, with the one poisoning the other, and then killing herself when the man in question turns out to be fatally wounded. With his last breath, the man revokes the death sentence, but it is too late, the daughter is dead, and seeing her body, Lear dies as well.
Tom Lanoye wrote a modern interpretation of this play for the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The story lines have been compressed a bit: Gloucester as a character has been removed and his part has been merged with Kent. The setting is now a modern day business in 2008 (just before the economic crisis), and King Lear is now Queen Lear, with the part written for (and with) Frieda Pittoors.
Elizabeth Lear is the CEO of Lear Inc. A world-spanning business at the top of its power, started by her father and further built up by her husband until his death. She rules with an iron hand but she is getting older, and as such has decided to split the business in threes, one part for each of her sons. At the board meeting she interrupts Kent (played by Gijs Scholten van Aschat), who wishes to celebrate recent acquisitions, and declares her intentions. She asks her eldest son Gregory (played by Roeland Fernhout) to declare his love for her. He is unprepared, and initially unwilling, but manages to spin a tale and gets his portfolio.
Then it’s Hendrik, or Henry’s turn (played by Jip van den Dool who I also saw in Mary Stuart back in December), he also manages to spin a tale and receives his portfolio. The youngest, Cornald (played by Alwin Pulinckx), however, refuses. He loves his mother, but he will not play this game. Elizabeth is furious. She gives his part to Hendrik to divide between him and Gregory and disowns Cornald. Kent, who has been her friend and adviser for years, tries to defend him, upon which she fires him, too. Mama Lear then decrees that she will live with each of the brothers for a month at a time with her entourage, starting with Gregory.
Cornald travels to Asia to make a name for himself in micro-finance, supported by Kent who has given him contacts to start with. Gregory and Henry divide the rest, and try to keep the business, well, in business. Henry is a true businessman, he knows what he’s doing, Gregory has less business sense, he’s more in it for the money. It’s not long before tragedy starts to strike. Cornald has little success in Asia, and is being extorted and threatened to give up the business secrets of Lear Inc. The dividing of the company has scared investors and stockholders and the stocks are plummeting. Gregory and Henry try within their ability, but they can’t turn the tide.
While this happens Queen Lear tries her best to stay relevant and on top of things, manipulating the people around her as she has always done. But things are changing. Her mind is slipping, she becomes forgetful and doesn’t always recognize people anymore. Alzheimer’s is getting its clutches into her. This is good for Kent, as this allows him to stick around and try to help her, and Cornald, for whom he has a soft spot.
Besides Kent there is also Oleg, Queen Lear personal assistant and caretaker. He’s a young immigrant from Eastern Europe who sends most of the money he makes back home to his mother. Because of that, he feels deeply for Queen Lear as she reminds him of his own mother. This is not explicitly said in the play, but we had the luck that the introduction to the play was an interview with Vanja Rukavina, who plays Oleg, which gave us some extra insight into his character and the relationship between him and Queen Lear.
As the business is going under, Queen Lear is forced to cull the number of servants. She protests heavily but both brothers will not budge. Oleg calls his mother to tell her that he will not be able to send more money as the business is not doing well. We can’t understand this, as the conversation is in Bosnian, but Rukavina lifted the veil on that for those who were at the introduction 🙂
After the call, Queen Lear comes in, dejected, angry, confused, and in need of kindness and love. Her underlying attraction to Oleg comes to the surface and she tries to seduce him. While unwilling at first, he eventually consents and they end up in bed together.
This scene was added at the specific request of Frieda Pittoors, who wanted to explore a relationship that is still often seen as taboo. Older men with young trophy wives or lovers are generally applauded for landing such a conquest, while an older woman with a young boyfriend or husband is seen as weird.
After another argument with her sons and their wives, Queen Lear runs out of the building, into a terrible storm. She wanders around, lost, desolate and in the grip of her disease. She throws a monologue into the storm before she is found by Oleg who tries to take her home. They meet a homeless junk who she, in her delirium, mistakes for her youngest son Cornald (not quite coincidentally played by the same actor :D).
Eventually, Queen Lear is back home, still lost in her mind. Cornald has returned home, but she does not recognise him. The children fight over the downfall of the company. Henry has a plan to save what remains, Gregory is mostly on board, but Cornald disagrees. Kent is also present, still blinded from an earlier fight where Gregory attacked him. And so, with all present, tension mounts, drama unfolds and we move towards the inevitable tragedy of death, and a woman permanently lost in her own mind.
The play is a masterful adaptation of the original. The changes have made the story stronger, and relevant for current society. The actors are all quite good, but Frieda Pittoors knocks her part out of the park, she is fantastic. She manages to convey the loss of self through Alzheimer so very well.
Wednesday, Mom and I went to the Schouwburg to see Sara Kroos play her latest show “Van Jewelste”. Sara Kroos is someone I’ve seen on TV and always liked, she’s spontaneous but does always seem to make a point. So when Mom suggested we go see her back when I was deciding which shows to go to, I happily agreed,
As it begins, Sara enters the stage and starts telling about her life, obviously fictionalized or embellished in places, but I believe it has a significant core of truth in it. She tells us how her parents showed up at her door to tell her that they had bought the house next door, isn’t that fun! From there she slips in a flashback to an earlier moment where her mother embarrassed her, and from there on to another story and so on. She occasionally comes back to the present day situation, but other than that she jumps back and forth through time in a period of about four or so years.
The stories are hilarious and the jokes she makes are very funny. She’s good at improv so she reacts very well with what the audience is saying. Particularly a gentleman who, at a slightly risque joke made an oh-oh-ho kinda sound. She jumped on that and warned us, with a great smile, that if we thought that was much, we’d better not listen to the rest. And true to her word, that wasn’t the most risque joke by a long shot 😀
In between stories she sits down at the piano and sings a song. And the songs are the counterweights to all the laughter of the stories. They are calmer, and more serious and light the other side of parents and different generations and time, which are the main themes of the show. And by combining these elements, she really drives the point that time goes ever on.
Especially since I’m of a similar age as she is, and my parents are of a similar age as hers are, a lot of the things she said, and sang, hit home. You reach this point in your life where you’re in the middle. Your parents are still young and healthy enough to have a life of their own, you have your live (generally busy) and your children are doing their thing. And you look around and you kinda want to freeze the moment and keep it like this forever. Because it’s never going to be as good as it is now.
With time, there will come a day when you no longer think “oh, at least they’re still healthy” but it shifts to “at least they’re still here” and then they’re not. And you shift from annoyance and embarrasment at what your parents do to endearment at what they do, the older they get. And the same with children; who grow up and become more independent and eventually move out. And through all that, you need to realise that things always change, there will always be new moments that are good, or awesome, or fantastic, or even just sorta okay, but even the most awesomest thing is an individual thing. And as such, nothing is ever going to be as good as it was right at the moment you experienced it.
So yeah, many feels. And I was really happy I got to see this show with Mom.
Afterwards, Sara sold CDs with the songs from the show from the stage and would sign them, so Mom and I made our way there and each bought a copy.
My mother, her friend and I went out last night to see Marcel Hensema, an actor and entertainer, perform his second show, aptly named “Mijn Tweede” (My Second). I hadn’t heard of him before, but Mom had heard of his previous show, and said she would like to go, would I like to go with? I said yes, so tickets were bought and off we went.
I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly. I saw some photos of his previous show and got slightly worried as it seemed very dress-up and sketch-based and I’m not always a fan of that. Fortunately, the evening turned out great.
Hensema started out by singing old songs adapted to be about places in the province. He then did dress-up as a character and started doing a sketch-like story, which morphed into another story, as another character and so on. As he made his way through characters, repeating some, and stories, it became an interconnected whole showing this big slice-of-life of all these characters. All to make the point that life isn’t this grand tale, it is everything in between, and so it is also for the people around you. Everyone influences everyone, and you’re a part of more lives than you think. So look around you at your life and don’t pass it by waiting for special occasions, grand accomplishments or other extraordinary things. As the saying goes: “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”
In the end, I liked the moral and the sentiment he wanted to get across, and I liked many of the stories he told; but I feel I would’ve liked it better with less dress-up and sketch, and more as a sort of ‘regular’ cabaret.