Willem Landré: De roos van Dekama (1896)

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  • WillemLandreSL1RoosDekama
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  • Willem Landré in his twenties
  • Front page of the manuscript score of WIllem Landré's opera De roos van Dekama
  • Madzy's aria from Willem Landré's Roos of Dekama was performed at 401Concerts 3, Kröller-Müller Museum, May 29, 2016

Landré’s work left wonderful impressions of power and […] charm. Not a single page was trivial or lacking in substance. His composition was most noble throughout and a testimony of good taste. As an example we mention how the dance scene in the second scene of the second act underscores the action. The return of the waltz theme, throughout the act, was enchanting and original. The duet between Reynout and Oda was very elaborate and titillating with charm. It wasn’t a surprise that the audience demanded an encore. Further testimony of the composer’s inspiration can be seen from Reynout’s song, ‘O stormig hart’ (O stormy heart), one of the highlights of the opera.’ (‘De Roos van Dekama’, unidentified newspaper cutting, 1897)

Five, six times the composer and librettist were called to the stage, where flowers were showered upon them by the ladies of the chorus. Bernard Zweers was there.

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Celà prouve! […] The performance lasted for 7.30 to 11 PM; too long for a theatre performance with changements de décors. With a few cuts however, it seems very suited tot (t: weg) he (the)  stage. The National Dutch Opera should hasten to perform it.’ (Johan Schmier, ‘De Roos van Dekama’, Amsterdam, 25 March 1897).

Performance chronology

22 maart 1897, (Monday), Willem Landré: De roos van Dekama, Haarlem, Tuinzaal (concertante wereldpremière met piano)
22 April 1897, Willem Landré: De roos van Dekama, Den Haag, De Dierentuin (concertant, zelfde bezetting als Haarlem)
11 November 1898,Willem Landré: De roos van Dekama ‘Voorspel, Mars, Acte II (compleet); ‘Legende voor viool’, ‘Erklärung’ voor bariton. Haarlem.
1899, Haarlem (mentioned in the manuscript score but without further specifications)
30 april 1901,Willem Landré: De roos van Dekama, Concertzaal der Sociëteit ‘Vereeniging’, Haarlem

29 mei 2016 401Concerts Nr. 3, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
De roos van Dekama ‘De zwaluw komt’ (Act I, Madzy’s aria)
Jolien De Gendt (Madzy), Pieter Dhoore (piano)
Download via: 401Concerts 3 download
Tickets 401Concerts 3 te koop via ticketlink.

Korte inhoud

Text: René Seghers
Nederlands Muziek Instituut, Kröller-Müller Museum

Act I. On the market square of Haarlem the magician Barnaba puts on his show. The Frisian trustees noblemen Seerp van Adeelen, the Lord of Aylva and Madzy Dekama give him some coins. Barnaba refuses their money saying he prefers real coins above pagan Frisian ones. This results in an uproar started by the hot hotheaded Seerp van Adeelen, last descendant of the Frisian kings, who attempts to attack the magician. Knight Deodaat van Verona, from among the entourage of the Count of Holland, tries to appease Seerp, during which effort he falls in love with Madzy. In an entr’acte we hear Madzy singing her Spring song ‘De zwaluw komt’, from her room in the cloister, unseen by the audience and those on stage. The song is all about flowers, Sun and Springtime, in which all youth rejoices and Reynout, who is captivated by Madzy’s voice, eventually joins in the finale (An excerpt of which can be heard in the video trailer here presented of 401Concerts 3:

’t Is liefdes lust ’t is liefdes prijs ’t is liefdes zomer zonnegloed | The lust of love, the prize of love is loving Summer Sunshine’s rays,
die ons de poorten open doet van’t eeuwig paradijs. | Who to us opens the gates of Paradise.

Thus, Knight Reynout van Verona spontaneously falls in love with Madzy as well, just as his brother earlier. All go tot the archer’s manifestation, where Barnaba asks for an audience with the Count. The latter challenges him to show his magic. Barnaba offers to tell those who want it their future. Oda van Wassenaar can be glad, her lover loves her. The Frisian delegation arrives. The Count greets them as vassals which once again has Seerp reaching for his sword. The Count expects them to bring him tribute as their Lord where the Frisian nobility apparently had hoped to negotiate a better deal. Next in line of the fortune telling is Deodaat who learns that his father and brother are still alive, although they no longer reside in Verona. Barnaba then asks Aylva if he remembers ‘Bianca van Salerno’? Aylva trembles. Barnaba tells him that the lily white flower has withered, but her lamb was rescued. When the Count asks Madzy if she isn’t curious, Barnaba speaks for her, saying that her future has already been told. The Count ask after this prophecy and Madzy replies:

‘Als Dekama haar roos verliest | When Dekama loses its rose
En die voor Friesland het zeewater kiest, | When it sails on behalf of Frisia
Dan zullen haar te plukken begeeren | Then full of longing will be
Vogels van allerlei wieken en veeren;| Birds of many feathers
In bitter klagen en droef verkwijnen, | She will be sad and she shall suffer
Zij ’t hoofdje buigen en welken zal, | She will bow her head,
Maar dra weer bloeien en blij verschijnen…’ | To look up only when…’

Seerp finishes her lines: ‘When Frisia rejoices in the fall of the Count!’ The people rise threatening against him, but the Count summons them to stand down. Isn’t Seerp curious for his own future? he wants to know. Barnaba then predicts war between Holland and Frisia, and in that war the Count will fall.

Second act. Thinking back of Bianca van Salerno and his son Aylva contemplates his situation. Next Deodaat arrives to invite the Frisians to the ball. Aylva accepts, saying that Madzy however will remain in her room, she is not to be exposed to Holland’s humblebees. Then Madzy and Deodaat protest and Seerp, Madzy’s fiancé, silences them. He insults Deodaat to the point that the latter throws his glove in Seerp’s face, challenging him to a duel. Seerp is irritated to see that Madzy tries to plea for Deodaat. In an entr’acte a torch dance follows. The curtain rises to the ballroom in the Count’s palace in Haarlem. Oda van Wassenaer sings a bucolic song. She converses with Reynout, the knight of her dreams. She has observed that he is all yes for Madzy, yet tells him that Madzy’s eyes are on his brother, Deodaat... Madzy arrives, against the orders of Aylva and Seerp. She couldn’t find peace in the cloister room. Her arrival infuriates Seerp, who fulminates that she probably hopes he will die in the duel. He abjects Madzy as his betrothed. This to the delight of Deodaat, who, once alone with Madzy, sings a passionate duet with her. Then Reynout enters. Seeing Madzy in his Deodaat’s arms he draws his knife and plunges it into his brother’s chest.

Third act. The Grand Church of Haarlem where Count Willem has gathered his court. Barnaba reveals to Aylva that one of the Veronese brothers is his son. When Barnaba hears that Deodaat was killed he tells Aylva that his son is Reynout. The courtiers and Frisian deputies arrive, followed by the Count and Countess and the bishops. When the Count summons the submission of the Frisians to his rule, they declare war upon him.

Fourth act. A square on Aylva’s castle near Stavoren. Aylva, Reynout and Madzy sing their heavy heartedness out in a trio, ‘Sombre tonen, sombre dagen’ (Dark tones, dark days). Deodaat is brought up as a spy. He has survived the attack and brings the credential of the Count. Reynout enters and comes tot the rescue of his brother; he deeply regrets his cowardly deed. In the distress that follows when the Count’s troupes attack the harbour and Aylva’s castle, Deodaat is left with Madzy. In the duet ‘O, – laat den blik mij zalig drinken’ (O – let me drink in your eyes) they surrender to each other. On the square Reynout duels with the Count, who injures him mortally. Barnaba kneels at his side. Reynout wasn’t Aylva’s son, but Barnaba’s, who had lied hoping for a better future for his son. Seerp and the Count kill each other in their fight. The Frisians are victorious and the dying Reynout tells Aylva that Deodaat is his real son.


It is at times striking how little Dutch composer were interested in the actual musical developments of their time. In 1894 the heydays of grand-opéra were long gone. Jules Massenet’s Le cid from 1885 and Émile Padhille’s Patrie! from 1886 were the last two successful grand-opéras, a genre that remarkably survived for ten more years in… The Netherlands, where Cornelis van der Linden and Richard Hol continued it. With De roos van Dekama librettist Fiora delle Neve (Mr M. G. L. van Loghem) created a veritable Dutch historic grand-opéra after the celebrated Dutch author Jacob van Lennep, a book that dealt with the wars between the Dutch and the Frisians, with a thin love story in the centre of the action. The fluent verses of Delle Neve offered the young Willem Landré anything he could have hoped for in his attempt to bring into practice the lessons of Bernard Zweers. He composed the work between 1894 and 1896 and apparently had high hopes to see his opera performed in the Dutch National Opera of Cornelis van der Linden, presumably counting on the network there from his famous librettist (who had composed the very successful libretti of Theodor Verhey’s König Arpad in 1888 and Simon van Milligen’s Brinio from 1889). It was announced for a premiere there in 1897. Such a performance did not materialize, either because Landré didn’t manage to wrap up the orchestration in time or because Van der Lindenn judged the risk too big with the completely unknown composer, who had composed the opera straight out of school. Then a concert performance was organized in Landré’s native Haarlem on March 25 1897 in De Tuinzaal – with piano accompaniment. Landré’s sister Jeanne sang Madzy, baritone Gerard Zalsman was Reynout, Dutch National Opera bariton August van de Hoeck van Adeelen and tenor Frans Philippeau was Deodaat van Verona. The performance took critics and audience by surprise; sure the composer was young, dialogues could be shortened and not every number was a hit but the last three acts were truly admired. Highlights were Madzy’s song in the cloister, the subsequent ensemble, the duet Oda and Reynout, the final ensemble of the third act and the trio from the fourth. Among the instrumental passages the torch dance (performed on two pianos) made a major impression. Already in the intermission an invitation came in to perform the opera in de Dierentuinzaal The Hague on April 22 1897. Regrettably, a staged Dutch National Opera premiere never materialized, also because the Dutch Opera was in great turmoil these years. Highlights were performed in concerts and in 1901 the complete work was reprised in the arrangement for piano in Concert Hall ‘Vereeniging’.

Significantly, Landré destroyed most of his pre-1920 scores judging them immature, yet he kept De roos van Dekama. Although foremost a document of his bolstering talent, it contains numerous fresh and fruity passages that have far more than a mere historic right to be heard. The 401DutchOperas performance of 2016 with Madzy’s once celebrated Spring song ‘De zwaluw komt’ during 401Concerts 3 is an excellent first testimony of this. Madzy was sung here by soprano Jolien De Gendt and Deodaat’s replies at the end by tenor Denzil Delaere, accompanied on the piano by Pieter Dhoore.

Download 401Concerts 3 with De roos van Dekama

401COnc3Logo150The recording of our third 401DutchOperas concert in the Kröller-Müller Museum is downloadable via 401Concerts 3. Apart from highlights of Willem Landré's De roos van Dekama it also includes highlights from Cornelis Dopper's De blinde van Casteel Cuillé, Daniël de Lange's Lioba, Gerard von Brucken Fock's Jozal, Julius Röntgen's Agnete and De lachende Cavalier, Jan van Gilse's Helga von Stavern, Jan Brandts Buys’ De kleermakers van Marken (Die Schneider von Schönau) and Richard Hageman's Caponsacchi.