Amsterdam Gets a Touch of Drama With This Year's Standout Holland Festival Lineup

© Emanuel Florakis

Just in time for spring, the Holland Festival blooms in the Netherlands.

There are few cities more lovely than Amsterdam in the late spring–and few times better suited to a visit than during the Holland Festival, the Netherlands’ biggest international performing arts festival. For nearly a month, the world’s most innovative artists, known for engaging with current issues in their work, descend on the city with new works in opera, theater, dance, and music.

This year’s festival is particularly focused on artists who cross and consider “Borders and Boundaries” in their work, exploring the borders both metaphorical and physical between art forms, geographic locations, behaviors and more. One pilar of that approach: the composer George Benjamin, who is a real coup for the festival has curated his own retrospective, tracing his continuous exploration of the voice and theatricality, including a semi-staged production of his landmark opera Written on Skin, and culminating in the composer conducting his own new opera Lessons and Love in Violence, a co-production with the Dutch National Opera.


© Graham Tolbert

Elsewhere at the festival, director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) will present a video installation, End Credits, about the African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson. The celebrated Tanztheater Wuppertal dance troupe will give its first new, full-length performance since the death of its founder, choreographer Pina Bausch, created by the Greek dancemaker Dimitris Papaioannou. A collective of musicians will pay tribute to David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. And the “post-apocalyptic music theater” of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, drawing on 200 years of black music, will take the stage. June 7-July 1