The Dutch National Opera is the largest theatre production house in the Netherlands. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, the iconic theatre of Dutch National Opera & Ballet offers a magnificent view of the River Amstel and the famous Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge). The various spaces form an inspiring backdrop for a whole range of special events.
Dutch National Opera & Ballet is a young theatre with a long history. The plans for building a new theatre ran parallel to the plans for a new city hall. The first discussions held by the Amsterdam city council about building a new city hall and opera house go back to 1915. At that time, the plans were specifically for an opera house, since ballet was a relatively unknown art form back then.
Ideas for the site of the new city hall and opera house were continually changing, and the idea that both buildings could form a single complex only emerged much later. Sites considered for the new city hall were initially the Dam, followed by the Frederiksplein, and finally the Waterlooplein.
In 1955, the city council commissioned the firm of architects Berghoef and Vegter to draft a design for a city hall on the Waterlooplein. The draft was approved, but in 1964 the council ended the association with the architects, as the final design was nothing like the original plans they had been shown. In 1967, a competition was held for a new design, with the Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer emerging as the winner. Amsterdam's financial problems, however, meant that the plans for the new city hall were put on hold for several years.
DNO has its own choir of sixty singers and technical staff of 260. DNO historically has not had its own resident orchestra, and so various orchestras of the Netherlands, including the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO), the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (NKO), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest and the Asko/Schönberg ensemble have provided the orchestral forces for DNO productions.
DNO produces on average eleven productions per year. While most performances are in the Dutch National Opera & Ballet building, the company has also performed in the Stadsschouwburg, at the Carré Theatre, and on the Westergasfabriek industrial site in Amsterdam. For many years, the June production has been organized as part of the Holland Festival and includes the participation of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. DNO has lent its productions to foreign companies, such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Lincoln Center Festival in New York, as well as the Adelaide Festival in Australia.
Since 1988, the French-Lebanese theatre director Pierre Audi has been the artistic director of DNO. Audi is scheduled to conclude his DNO tenure in 2018. In April 2017, DNO announced the appointment of Sophie de Lint as the company's next artistic director, effective 1 September 2018.
Hartmut Haenchen was chief conductor from 1986 to 1999, in parallel with holding the title of chief conductor of the NPO. He subsequently held the title of principal guest conductor with DNO. Subsequent chief conductors have been Edo de Waart (1999-2004) and Ingo Metzmacher (2005-2008). In March 2009, DNO announced the appointment of Marc Albrecht as the orchestra's next chief conductor, with the 2011-2012 season, for an initial contract of four years. This return to a single chief conductor at both DNO and the NPO/NKO allows for the NPO to become the principal opera orchestra for DNO. Albrecht is scheduled to stand down as chief conductor of DNO at the end of the 2019-2020 season.