OperaZuid presents Offenbach’s FANTASIO on tour

17th May – 30th June.

After the successful production A Quiet Place by Leonard Bernstein – which was named Opera of the Year by the online magazine Place de l’Opéra – Opera Zuid will be presenting the spectacle opera Fantasio (1872) from Jacques Offenbach, grandmaster of comic opera, from 19th May onwards. Fantasio is the second part of Opera Zuid’s festive season 2018/2019 in which two composers, Leonard Bernstein and Jacques Offenbach (both celebrating anniversaries), are central. Once again, under intendant Waut Koeken, Opera Zuid is sticking its neck out: Fantasio has never before been performed in a Dutch theatre. A Dutch premiere of a nineteenth-century pearl as part of the Offenbach year 2019.

Fantasio is an ode to fantasy, a satire disguised as a fairy tale and a moving love story that swings back and forth in a unique way between hilarious humour and tender poetry. The opera shows a different side of Jacques Offenbach, the French/German ‘opera emperor’ of operetta and cancan: that of a sensitive and extremely sophisticated musician. With Fantasio all the stops are pulled out: we witness a parade of court jesters, unconditional expressions of love and carnivalesque wonder in an unparalleled fantasy world. Hilarious and moving scenes alternate in a show that focuses on the magic of the theatre and the comic tragedy of the clown. This romantic comedy plays in a typical Offenbachian way against a background of intelligent political and social satire.

Fantasio‘s score went up in flames in a fire at the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1887 and – after a less successful attempt at revival in the thirties – the opera was only reconstructed in 2000 in a historically responsible way. Now Opera Zuid is bringing the opera to the Netherlands for the first time in a brand new look. Although the work is new to most listeners, certain parts of the work will sound familiar, different parts or themes from the work were reused in Offenbach’s most famous opera Les contes d’Hoffmann. The student choir from the first act has been adopted in its entirety, and the ‘Leitmotif’ of the voice of Antonia’s mother in the third company of Les contes d’Hoffmann is originally from the overture of Fantasio.

Conductor Enrico Delamboye sees Fantasio as the perfect connection between the early and late Offenbach. “On the one hand the well-known Offenbach of playful, witty operettas such as Orphée aux enfers and La belle Hélène, in which there was ample room for parody and a mischievous wink at the prevailing order. On the other hand you have the later Offenbach of his most famous opera Les contes d’Hoffmann, which is very much focused on the drama of one person. In Fantasio you will find the best of both worlds. From a socially critical, playful Offenbach to more highly romantic drama.”

Intendant and director Waut Koeken and Fantasio director Benjamin Prins share a love for Offenbach, and together they worked on the operas La vie Parisienne and La princesse de Trébizonde. Even then the French mezzo-soprano Romie Estèves was already part of the cast. She now plays the lead role in Fantasio, after having made a highly acclaimed debut as Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Zuid a few years earlier. In addition to her there are roles for, among others, soprano Anna Emelianova as Princesse Elsbeth, Huub Claessens as Le Roi de Bavière and Belgian baritone Ivan Thirion, Cardiff Singer of the World winner 2017.

Fantasio is an opera about jesters and fools, about love and foolishness, about war and costume parties.

Henri – alias Fantasio – is a young student who dreams of giving his life a different direction. When the king’s jester dies, he decides to take his place, hoping to win the heart of Princess Elsbeth …… Fantasio contains references to great classics. Just as Hamlet in Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name mourns the death of his beloved court jester Yorick, Fantasio also starts with a grieving princess Elsbeth who tries to process the death of her beloved court jester Saint Jean. The death of the court jester offers Fantasio a chance that he grasps with both hands.


Dance & costumes

Club Guy & Roni’s Poetic Disasters Club and FASHIONCLASH

The characters of De Musset are often like ghosts in a mirror. Without the ability to act, everyone develops their own theatrical gestures. The dancers of Guy & Roni uniquely depict these physical oddities. The Poetic Disasters Club is an initiative of Club Guy & Roni, the Noord Nederlands Toneel and Slagwerk The Hague. It is a breeding ground for young, talented makers, dancers, actors and musicians.

A spectacular part of Fantasio will be the coloured, carnivalesque parade of 24 jesters. The alternative vision of fashion platform FASHIONCLASH on the human body and fashion, suits this opera. FASHIONCLASH invited four promising designers to design and produce six different jester costumes. Benjamin Prins: “Just like in a dream, we jump from one historical period to the other. Ending up with an apotheosis, a kind of carnival, a festival of fools, a feast of fools. ” Fantasio’s outcome shows that social titles and roles are nothing but a sham. “The world is perfect because we are all unique. All different, all crazy. The dancers and costumes reflect this. “


This opera will be performed in various languages with Dutch surtitles.

Click here for tour dates and more information