Opera Spanga

00-Corina-van-Eijk-1Opera Spanga is a dedicated, unconventional opera producing enterprise that works from the Frisian village of Spanga in The Netherlands. Since its first production, an Elisir d'amore in 1989, produced in the backyard of Opera Spanga's stage director Corina van Eijk, the company's signature is highly individual and going against trends and tradition in opera. To date, 26 productions onwards, Opera Spanga prepares a production of Romeo en Julia, in spite of the fact that their subvention has been annulled n the wake of Dutch cultural reforms, which some have dubbed 'cultural annihilation'. The ins and outs of Opera Spanga Conpany can be found below, along with a range of their cd/dvd productions and some downloads in an exclusive coproduction between Opera Spanga and 401DutchOperas.com

00-Corina-van-Eijk-2According to Van Eijk, and we can attest to this, Opera Spanga aims to keep opera an art form that is alive and kicking. Terms as 'respect and love for the nature of the original work' prevail here as elsewhere, although... Opera Spanga has a decidedly unique view when it comes to the way in which they work with scores and staging. Unorthodox and risky are near understatements in Opera Spanga's notorious staging of renowned masterpieces by the likes of, say, Verdi, Mozart, Donizetti. In addition they keep operatic tradition alive by bringing intriguing world premieres and fascinating opera movie productions. Founder, festival & stage director Corina van Eijk:

'We attain the appropriate vitality by a) shifting the 'color' of Grand Operas a fraction or so to render music and theme contemporary and b) creating new operas. We make productions, which are tied to Spanga, as well as mobile productions on location in surprising places: in the middle of town, churches, museums, historical locations. The chosen locations added to the rebellious staging allow us both to stimulate the opera buff and to win the enthusiasm of a young audience.'

No guts no glory

If some traditionalists might call Opera Spanga's productions an embarrassment, others call its unconventional choices and risky undertakings a delightful and refreshing source of inspiration. At times, scores are even completely 'decomposed'. Van Eijk:

'We show courage in our re-orchestrations of operas and go even a step further in "de-composing" them, which unique process can be experienced in as in Falstaff Rivisto or Donna Giovanna.'

Van Eijk shrugs her shoulders at incidental criticism of more conservative opera lovers and the Advisory Board of Culture, which, in the last months of 2012, canceled Opera Spanga's state subvention after nearly 20 years:

'We commissioned works; we combine professionals with young musicians and amateurs. We are the only opera company in our country to produce opera films. The opera films can be seen at film festivals here and abroad as well as on national and international television stations (NTR, Omrop Fryslân, BravaNL, Cultura). The DVDs of our opera films are sold here and internationally. We produce DVD's that are being sold internationally. We don't expect the entire operatic community to convert and travel to Spanga but we do offer a unique alternative for opera lovers who are interested in a different outlook at opera as a phenomenon. Our productions are always adjusted to time and plots are being presented in a different light. Spanga subscribers usually value this approach.'



Van Eijk's different viewpoint usually has a binding element in zooming in on the hidden erotic layers that lumber in many operas. This focus is never vulgar or decorative, as is all too often the case in opera productions. In Spanga the erotic layers are usually peeled off and reversed from a psychological, Freudian point of view: males become females as in Donna Giovanna, males and females take on each others negative or positive moral characteristics, which results in a continuous series of upcoming question marks with respect to traditional moral values. Van Eijk:

'The heartbeat, the source, the sexuality which gives rise to everything, and which plays such a vital role in our lives, is evident in the characters in our operas. The characters are human beings of flesh and blood: sensual, non-sensual, disgusting, loveable. We always give the loaded themes of the operas a human dimension. We do not shy away from any stylistic means of accomplishing this. Sometimes we are cartoonesque, sometimes we display the obsessive side of sexuality, and sometimes the tragic is merely a breath away from the ridiculous. Shakespeare is a great model for this approach. As no other he is able to manage the delicate balancing act between the vulgar and the subtle, the tragic and the sentimental, hilarity and seriousness.'

Humor as a tool

To achieve all this, the technique is a means to the aim, says Van Eijk:

'Our productions are extremely work-intensive: the video images are not merely decorative elements but play an important role in the action. Perfection in the details and in the visualization of the rhythm is essential for maintaining the balance between humor and drama. '

Thos coming to Spanga with the intention of taking a nap are going to be disappointed. With many productions playing in the open fields, it may rain at times, or one may have to bicycle from location to location. Van Eijk:

'The only thing predictable about Opera Spanga's productions is unpredictability. We do not recoil from letting the audience leave the tent with disconcerting feelings.'

Opera Spanga begins where others end

Causing disconcerting feelings may be an incidental side effect, but it most certainly is not the aim in Spanga. As one readily understands from our report of Caroline Ansink's Stuyvesant Zero and Floris van Bergeijk's Donna Giovanna drive in road opera movie, both from 2012, the open minded and curious opera lover will find lots of joy in Friesland. In the Dutch classical music magazine Luister I have moreover praised Spanga's DVD movie productions of Rigoletto and Samson and Delila. It is precisely for their unconventional way of presenting opera that we promote this company with such care here. Opera Spanga has a unique position in that their productions sort of start from where others end. Which is not to say that other Dutch opera companies as The Dutch Opera to Opera Days Rotterdam, Holland Festival or Traveling Opera Company – all of which will eventually find a place here too – are not on a par. Opera Spanga just offers a different, highly individual perspective on top. This perspective, and that is presumably also the reason for the recent judgment of the advisory culture board to cancel further funding, is very much Corina van Eijk's individual signature: playful, head strong, insightful, at times moralizing but usually presented with a wink. This very much in line with Verdi's Falstaff, who wisely sang: 'The entire World is a joke'.

We hope that Opera Spanga will find the means to continue their experimental work in the years to come.







Donna Giovanna (film)

Stuyvesant Zero 

Falstaff rivisto

Is this Tosca?

Carmen in Delfzijl


De Zaak Hoffmann

Donna Giovanna

Mevrouw en Meneer Macbeth

Gods Videotheek

Samson and Delilah (film)

Sancta Susanna

Buwalsky, A Road Opera (NL)

Buwalsky, A Road Opera (VS)

Rigoletto (film)



Blauwbaard's Burcht

Il Trittico


Samson et Dalila

Ariadne auf Naxos

The Rake's Progress

Les Contes d'Hoffmann


L'Elisir d'Amore
Adres: Spangahoekweg 47, 8482 Spanga (gemeente Weststellingwerf aan de N351), Nederland

Map & route: www.google.nl

Openbaar Vervoer: Neem bus 108 vanaf NS-Station Wolvega (let op: tot 19.00 uur) naar Spanga. Vanaf Leeuwarden of Zwolle bent u in 30 minuten in Wolvega.


Phone: +31-(0)20-475 11 34 / +31-(0)20-475 11 35
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www. operaspanga.nl
Kaartverkoop: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Opera Spanga presents in collaboration with the Frisian Youth Concert Wind Orchestra Romeo and Juliet, paradise lies under your mother's feet

The Frisian Youth Concert Wind Orchestra (a sub-division of Keunstwurk) plays both the musical and theatrical lead in this production, along with Opera Spanga singers Francis van Broekhuizen, Klara Uleman, Marcel van Dieren and Sandrine Buendia.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is set in our own time: when tensions fed by ignorance and intolerance due to cultural and religious differences increase to the point where, just as in Shakespeare, deaths occur, some of the orchestra seats are vacated.

The orchestra sounds tragically thin.

The Fertility of a Poisonous Idea

With Stuyvesant Zero, an opera in two scenes and a debate (2012), Opera Spanga introduced the theme which we intend to explore in the coming years: "The Fertility of a Poisonous Idea."

We intend to examine why it is that throughout history, and also especially in the present, it often appears to be so frighteningly simple to bring a poisonous idea to fruition.

The Story

Holtenius, the frustrated Frisian farmer, blames the decline of his business on the presence of foreigners, all of whom he has come to hate. This makes it impossible for his son Romeo to express to him his love for the North African Juliet.

Juliet's father Loukile, who has arranged a marriage for his daughter, also clings to outdated ideas similar to those of Holtenius. Their ideas, which are not sustained by a constantly changing everyday reality, but are static and narrow-minded, have disastrous effects—they kill all young love.

The Idea Behind the Production

It is incredible that without blushing we Dutch can use a term like "allochtoon" (literally 'not of this earth') to designate foreigners. Language, the expression of our manner of thinking and our societal reality, can have a toxic effect.

Words—sometimes words which have lost their meaning for us due to excessive use—tend to stigmatize and continue to echo for a long time. We could continue to use a cliché which we are more sensitive to in a time like this, when people are set up against each other and exploited.

But the other is yourself, and there is nothing other than yourself.

Shakespeare expresses 'the importance of names' thus:

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

The Music

Love rendered impossible by family feuds, cultural and religious differences is a timeless theme.

Down through the centuries the texts and the theme of Romeo and Juliet have been a source of inspiration for countless writers, musicians (classical, jazz and pop), visual artists and film makers.

For this production Opera Spanga makes use of musical works inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Romeo & Juliet by Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Ouverture by Tchaikovsky, I Capuleti e i Montechi by Bellini, What is a Youth by Nino Rota from Zeffirelli's film Romeo and Juliet, Romeo et Juliette by Berlioz, Romeo et Juliette by Gounod and a number of songs from Bernstein's Westside Story, a song by the pop band Meatloaf and another by Dire Straits as well as music composed especially for this opera by Floris van Bergeijk. We use the melodies and thoughts of our ancestors to enrich our lives.