Wednesday 12 June 2024

Over 14.000 visitors see 'J.S. Bach - The Apocalyps'

Over 14.000 visitors see 'J.S. Bach - The Apocalyps'

After 27 performances in the Netherlands and Germany, the tour of J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse came to an end In Leipzig. What started as an idea in 2019 has now come to an end: a dream came true. The performance had its world premiere at the Koninklijke Schouwburg in Den Haag in 2022. That was also immediately the derniere because of the pandemic. Press and audience reacted enthusiastically: 82% of the audience gave five stars and the press wrote rave reviews. In 2024, cast and crew met again to finish what they had started two years earlier: a tour of the Netherlands and performances in Münster, where the story took place, and at the renowned Bachfest Leipzig.


After the enthusiastic reviews from the press who attended the premiere two years ago during the pandemic, the audience is also responding positively. Comments such as 'A beautiful evening! I was deeply moved many times!' and '...shining with joy and dedication... Bravo and my deep bow...' are just a few of the positive audience reactions to the performance. 

One of the most touching responses was from a 12-year-old daughter of an attendee. She found the performance amazing and asked when she could go to the opera again: 'My friend and her 12-year-old daughter were in the audience yesterday, it was the kid's first-ever opera, and she loved it and is asking when they can go again.'


On 22 May, J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse played in the Great Hall of Theatre Münster during the Bachfest Münster, where the performance had its German premiere. The German audience applauded for minutes afterwards, and reviewers also wrote positively about the performance. According to Concerti.de, the audience saw a 'pasticcio with intelligently and sensitively adapted compositions by Thomaskantor Bach', resulting in a 'fascinating night at the theatre': '"The Apocalypse" impresses [...] as a planned big hit'.

'[...] the Anabaptist story is told in a catchy and gripping way, the combination with the music, which is both sacred and dramatic, works', writes the Münstersche Zeitung, with director Serge van Veggel proving that 'modern opera can also work excellently with "old" music' and 'the period instruments under Hernán Schvartzman deliver everything that the baroque theory of affects has to offer'.

In Leipzig too, the performance was cheered by audiences. The Leipziger Volkszeitung praised musicality of the performance: 'Musically, the production also comes off as one piece: Hernán Schvartzman and the orchestra of the Dutch Bach Society really do get a lot of drama out of the Bach movements that Iliopoulos has compiled between the two Cum Sancto fugues from the Mass in B minor, which "frame" this "apocalypse".'


The opera tells the true story of Jan van Leiden. This actor, pub landlord and tailor became leader of a movement in the 16th century that proclaimed that the world would fall. A salvation state was established. This radicalised and became a dictatorship. We follow John from his initial enthusiasm, through his equally flamboyant and ruthless reign to his final confession on death row. We thus experience from the inside how the timeless mechanisms of populism, polarisation and radicalisation do their work.


With gripping, overwhelming and emotional music by Bach, the story comes to life. Scenarist and director Serge van Veggel, together with librettist Thomas Höft and baroque specialist and modern composer Panos Iliopoulos, turned the work into a true through-composed opera. Thanks to a compelling and grandiose staging, an outstanding cast and the choir and orchestra of the Nederlandse Bachvereniging conducted by Hernán Schvartzman, Bach will be heard and seen as never before.

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