in the garden of delights


Mariken in the Garden of Delights premiered on 11 October 2015 in the Royal Theatre of The Hague

In 2015, OPERA2DAY presented Mariken in the Garden of Delights, a new opera based on the story of Mariken van Nieumeghen. Exactly 500 years ago, the first version of this ‘mystery play’ was printed in Antwerp. Through the course of time, the story has by no means lost its power: it belongs irrefutably to the canon of Dutch culture. In their opera, OPERA2DAY retold this moving and intense tale in a new and gripping manner as a collaboration with several notable partners: het Nationale Toneel, Asko|Schönberg and Cappella Amsterdam. Composer Calliope Tsoupaki wrote the score.

The girl who 'lived seven years with the devil'
In the opera, we follow the curious but also vulnerable Mariken on a journey through a sinister world. She encounters some intriguing characters including a shrew of an aunt, a seductive devil and an inquisitorial pope. In analogy to the triptych ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch (a contemporary of Mariken van Nieumeghen) she departs from 'The Closed Court' near Nijmegen to arrive in 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' of Antwerp city life, in which she spends seven years with the devil leading a lavish life. Eventually, searching for ‘Repentance’, she ends up in the Cloister of the White Nuns in Maastricht. She lives there in chains, praying for deliverance.

Calliope Tsoupaki: the 'Monteverdi of the 20th century'
Concept and stage direction are in the hands of Serge van Veggel, the artistic director of OPERA2DAY. For the libretto he worked closely together with dramaturg Karim Ameur (Nationale Theater). Calliope Tsoupaki composed the score. The New York Times described her work as ‘dizzyingly beautiful’ and TM Magazine described her as the ‘Monteverdi of the twentieth century’.

Mariken: an actress amongst the singers
A special form was devised for this opera. The leading role of Mariken is played by the winner of the Dutch Film Award (Gouden Kalf) Hannah Hoekstra, a Nationale Theater-actress amongst the singers. We follow Mariken, a spoken role, on her path through a world full of singing characters: Harry van der Kamp (uncle), Jill Feldman (aunt), Julian Podger (the devil), Michael Chance (the pope) and actor Joop Keesmaat (narrator).

Magical sound worlds meet
Different sound universes melt together in this opera. The instrumental music will be performed by the musicians of Asko|Schönberg, a leading ensemble for contemporary music, together with Tetraktys Ensemble, specialists in music of the Middle Ages. In addition, the female singers of Cappella Amsterdam performed as a choir with some soloistic elements the souls of all the Marikens in the world. All are under the musical direction of Hernán Schvartzman.

World première in The Hague, followed by a tour throughout The Netherlands
Mariken in the Garden of Delights premiered on Sunday 11th October in the Royal; Theatre of The Hague, where five performances were given. Following this, the production toured throughout the country with a total of 20 performances in 16 cities.


het Nationale Toneel
Cappella Amsterdam

Made possible thanks to...

Mariken in the Garden of Delights was made possible thanks to:
Gemeente Den Haag
Fonds Podiumkunsten
Stichting VSBfonds
Nationaal Theaterfonds
Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Cultuurfonds BNG
Fonds 21
Stichting Fonds Schiedam Vlaardingen e.o.
Gemeente Alkmaar
Gemeente Arnhem
Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst 
Gemeente Amersfoort
Janivo Stichting
Stichting Casterenhoeve
Stichting Orlanda Goban
Stichting Elisabeth Strouven
Huis voor de Kunsten Limburg
Provincie Limburg
Limburg Cultuur onderstreept
Stichting Het Hervormd Weeshuis
P.W. Janssen's Friesche Stichting
Stichting Gilles Hondius Foundation
Verenigde Feteris De Baan en Semper Labor Stichting
Stichting K.F. Hein fonds
Stichting Gereformeerd Frans van Uden-Huis
Mr. Paul de Gruyter Stichting
Dr. Hofsteestichting


Mariken in the garden of delights (campaign photo) - Photo Henk Bleeker
Mariken in de tuin der lusten (portraits) - Photos Henk Bleeker
Portrait of Calliope Tsoupaki
Portraits of Julian Podger, Hannah Hoekstra and Michael Chance
Jill Feldman, Joop Keesmaat and Harry van der Kamp
Photos of Asko|Schönberg, Cappella Amsterdam and Tetraktys Ensemble
Fragment from The Garden of Delights, Hieronymus Bosch


Act 1. The closed courtyard

Mariken grows up with her uncle, near Nijmegen. Her uncle sends her to town to go shopping. Darkness falls and she cannot return home anymore. She knocks on the door of her aunt who calls her a dirty slut. Mariken is left desperate on the streets and surrenders herself into the hands of ‘god or devil’. The devil Moenen shows up and promises to teach her all sciences and all languages in exchange for her love. 

Act 2. The garden of delights

Moenen and Mariken travel to Antwerp where, for seven years, they live a life of murder and lust. As time passes, Mariken, who must now go by the name of Emmeken, longs to return home and give up her sinful life. The turning point is a pageant in which God considers inflicting a heavier punishment on mankind for their sins, but is convinced by Mariken’s namesake, Mary, to be merciful. She turns away from Moenen. In revenge, he throws her up into the air, allowing her to crash down to earth. 

Act 3. Penance

In the third act, we meet the now elderly Mariken, who has been doing penance for decades in a cloister in Maastricht. We see how memories and visions of her life after her fall from the sky appear before her eyes. We see how her uncle finds his niece on the streets, broken but alive. Together, they seek to do penance. After visiting numerous priests, bishops and a cardinal, they find penance through an unforgiving pope who puts her in iron chains. From this moment on, Mariken is chained, until a heavenly vision of a white dove appears, setting her free.

Artistic team

Composition Calliope Tsoupaki

Libretto Karim Ameur and Serge van Veggel

Conductor Hernán Schvartzman

Stage direction Serge van Veggel

Project developer Alice Gubler

Dramaturgy Karim Ameur

Co-director pageant Meike van den Akker

Scenography Herbert Janse

Lighting design Uri Rapaport

Technical producer Ronald Tebra

Costumes Mirjam Pater

Hair and makeup Nienke Algra

Animations Brigitte Hennequin

Sound design Arne Bock


Mariken Hannah Hoekstra

Uncle Harry van der Kamp

Aunt Jill Feldman

Moenen Julian Podger

Pope Michael Chance

Narrator/pageant Joop Keesmaat

Soul of Mariken Lucie Chartin

Old Mariken Truus te Selle

Falling Mariken Femke Luyckx

Extras Hans Peter Ligthart, Martin van Rijn, René Roza, Fabian Smit, Zweitze Zwart


Oboe/alto oboe Marieke Schut

Bassoon Amber Mallee

Horn Serguei Dovgaliouk, Guido Rooyakkers (Oct 30)

Trombone Toon van Ulsen

Percussion Ger de Zeeuw

Singing saw (recording) Annette Scholten

Violin Jan Erik van Regteren Altena

Viola Liesbeth Steffens, Ruben Sanderse (Oct 30)

Cello Maarten Vos

Double bass James Oesi

Tetraktys Ensemble

Recorders/viella Kees Boeke

Recorders/hurdy-gurdy Tobie Miller

Recorders/harps/organetto Claire Piganiol

Cappella Amsterdam

Lucie Chartin

Andrea van Beek

Antje Lohse

Desirée Verlaan

Mariana Pimenta

Andrea Tjäder

Scene photos Mariken in the garden of delights


Podium Witteman focuses on Mariken


Trailer Mariken in de tuin der lusten


Mariken in de tuin der lusten: an interview with the makers

No current calendar dates found for this production.

Saturday 21 Nov 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Stadstheater Arnhem, Arnhem

Addres: Velperbinnensingel 10
City: 6811 BP Arnhem
Phone: 026 - 443 73 43

Wednesday 18 Nov 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

SPOT Groningen (Stadsschouwburg), Groningen

Addres: Turfsingel 86
City: 9711 VX Groningen
Phone: 050-3680368

Sunday 15 Nov 2015 - 19:00 HOUR

TAQA Theater De Vest, Alkmaar

Addres: Canadaplein 2
City: 1811 KE Alkmaar
Phone: 072-5489999

Friday 13 Nov 2015 - 19:30 HOUR

Stadsschouwburg Nijmegen, Nijmegen

Addres: Keizer Karelplein 32h
City: 6511 NH Nijmegen
Phone: 024-3221100

Tuesday 10 Nov 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Theaters Tilburg, Tilburg

Addres: Louis Bouwmeesterplein 1
City: 5038 TN Tilburg
Phone: 013 543 22 20

Saturday 07 Nov 2015 - 19:30 HOUR

Theater De Spiegel, Zwolle

Addres: Spinhuisplein 14
City: 8011 ZZ Zwolle
Phone: 0900-1435

Friday 06 Nov 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Kunstlinie, Almere

Wednesday 04 Nov 2015 - 20:00 HOUR

Theater aan de Parade, Den Bosch

Addres: Parade 23
City: 5211 KL Den Bosch
Phone: 0900 - 3372723

Tuesday 03 Nov 2015 - 20:00 HOUR

Parktheater, Eindhoven


Addres: Elzentlaan 50
City: 5615 CN Eindhoven
Phone: 040 - 2111122

Sunday 01 Nov 2015 - 20:30 HOUR

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Friday 30 Oct 2015 - 20:00 HOUR

Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht

Saturday 24 Oct 2015 - 20:00 HOUR

Deventer Schouwburg, Deventer

Deventer Schouwburg

Addres: Leeuwenbrug 2
City: 7411 TJ Deventer
Phone: 0900 3000 200

Thursday 22 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Chassé Theater, Breda

Wednesday 21 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Flint, Amersfoort

Addres: Coninckstraat 60
City: 3811 WK Amersfoort
Phone: 033 4229 229

Saturday 17 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Friday 16 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Thursday 15 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Sunday 11 Oct 2015 - 14:00 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Saturday 10 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Wednesday 07 Oct 2015 - 20:15 HOUR

Theater aan de Schie, Schiedam

Addres: Stadserf 1
City: 3112 DZ Schiedam
Phone: 010-2467467


The performance was sung and spoken in Dutch of the middle-ages with Dutch subtitles.


Duration about 2 hours and 45 minutes, including an intermission. 


11 October 2015 The Hague


  • '

    A passionate, at times even grand performance

  • NRC
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