401Concerts 24 From Vondel 1685 to the French Era in Holland 1812

Hoghlights from the history of Dutch Operas 1685-1812


Cast Denzil Delaere, Hugo Kampschreur (tenors), Jolien De Gendt, Gina de Jong, Liza Dedapper, Marion Bauwens (sopranos), Mattijs van de Woerd (baritone), Gina de Jong (soprano), Sarah Konig, Esther Verheye (mezzosopranos), 401GirlsChoir, Camerata Delft, Pieter Dhoore (piano).

Reconstructions: 401DutchOperas/ Jan ten Bokum, Wouter Lucassen, Andy Clark, Cees Nieuwenhuizen.

Partners: Nederlands Muziek Instituut, GHG Von Brucken Fock Fonds, Gravin van Bylandt Stichting, Stichting Vergeten Componist

Date: 2 augustus 2020.
Location: Studio 1, Hilversum
Time: 16.00 uur.

Concert program

Arias, duets, trios, choirs and dances from:

Bidloo/ Vondel – PHAËTON (1685)

David Petersen – AMARILLIS (1693)


Servaas De Koninck – ESTHER (1696)

Servaas De Koninck – ATHALIE (1696)

Hendrik Anders – APOLLO EN DAFNE (1697)

Elias Brönnemuller – FASCICULUS MUSICUS (1710)

Johan Michel Mulligen – ACAJOU (1783)

Ludwig Van Beethoven – VESTAS FEUER (1804)

Jean Des Communes – HET DORP IN HET GEBERGTE (1812)


401DutchOperas and Nederlands Muziek Instituut bring a concert (in costumes) with highlights from all opera titles of the era of the Amsterdam Opera School (1685-1710). Since 1710 not a single note of these titles has been played anywhere. The larger part of them was considered lost until music philosopher René Seghers rediscovered fragments of them. With the help of musicians Cees Nieuwenhuizen, Jan ten Bokum, Andy Clark, Wouter Lucassen an Willem Mook we managed to produce performing editions for all surviving music of this era. This includes a reconstruction of the five preserved fragments of Bidloo's opera version of the illustrious world premiere of Vondels Faëton, 1685. The concert also includes highlights of the first Dutch success in Paris, the 1773 opera-comique Acajou by Haarlem born composer Johan Mulligen aka Jean-Baptiste Moulinghen. Also included in the concert is the first Friesland opera: Jean des Communes’s opera Het dorp in het gebergte (The mountain village) from 1812. There will be a sneak-preview of two reconstructed arias from an unknown Beethoven opera-torso titled Vestas Feuer (1804), that we commissioned from Cees Nieuwenhuizen.

Seghers: ‘My 401DutchOperas anthology sheds light on the theory that Beethoven was not born in Bonn, but in Zutphen, 1772. These try-out fragments with piano accompanyment serve the world premiere of the integral work with orchestra at the Beethoven Festival Zutphen, in June. All titles in the concert are modern day world premieres. The titles by David Petersen and Hendrik Anders include all the music that was preserved of their operatic output. Johan Mulligen's Acajou was the first major Dutch success in Paris, 1773. The first Frisian operas were all considered lost, untill I redicovered Jean des Communes's Leeuwarden opera The mountain village from 1812. A live recording of the concert will be published in 2021, along with the publication of the first volume of my 401DutchOperas Anthology, which is now finished ater 12 years of research and writing.’

The Amsterdam Opera School 1685-1710

Around 1685 Amsterdam had contracted a serious disease: operatic fever! This passion for opera met with fierce opposition from the world of theatre play. Only after a ferocious battle of pamphlets and much pressure of succesful opera enterprises just outside the city walls (playing in wooden sheds, tents, etc.), opera could conquer the stronghold of the Amsterdam City Theatre. All started with the 'smuggled-in' performance of Vondel's theatre play Faëton, disguised as an opera in the famous Govert Bidloo production of 1685. Onwards, composers such as Servaas de Koninck, David Petersen and Hendrik Anders produced numerous pastoral and comic operas there, nearly all of which were lost in the great Amsterdam City Theatre fire of 1772. The two preserved scores, Hacquart's De triomfeerende min and Schenck's Bachus Ceres en Venus (Schenk) achieved legendary status after their rediscovery in the second half of the 20th Century. Servaas De Koninck's likewise completely preserved scores of ‘Athalie’ and ‘Esther’ have however been overlooked. The lost operas by David Petersen and Hendrik Anders are forgotten to the point where there is hardly a recollection of even the bare titles. And yet three airs of Petersen's Amarillis have survived in song books of his day. The same applies to 9 arias from Hendrik Anders’s De verliefde rykaert bedrogen (The enamoured old rich man deceived), a genuine comic opera from half a centtury before Pergolesi is said to have invented the genre. Another 4 aria’s from Anders's Apollo en Dafne also survived time. Along with Elias Brönnemullers ‘Fasciculus Musicus’, Seghers's anthology of Dutch Opera will place these composers and their works in the proper context of their times.

To the Moon and back with Johan Mulligen, Harlem composer in Paris!

Born in Haarlem Johan Michel Mulligen (1751-1812) started playing in travelling orchestras from a young age. Hardly 18 years old he composed his first opéra-comiques in Paris. We discovered the magnificent score of his 1773 opera-comique Acajou. This is the earliest preserved foreign success of a Dutch opera composer. Seghers's anthology will eventually uncover over 50 Dutch opera's that have been produced or performed abroad, from Germany, France, Austria, Switserland, Sweden and the UK to the USA. The Acajou libretto is unique: with the talking head of prince Acajou’s beloved Zirphile on the Moon and her mute body walking around in the palace garden (where her molester preys on her), there is no time to lose: to the resque! Off to the Moon!

The first Friesland opera: Jean des Communes's 'The mountain village'

Jean des Communes (1759-1843) was born in Gouda. From 1782 onwards he boosted musical life in Leeuwarden, where he composed chamber music and symphonies. He also performed there Haydns revolutionary oratoria. From 1806 onwards he founded a local Frisian opera company, for which he composed The Mountain Village in 1812. His entire operatic output was considered lost, until Seghers redicovered the score of this work early in 2019. Nothing else has been preserved of the Frisian opera school or the so called Dutch 'French Era', when the netherlands were under French revolutionary governement.

Beethoven and Schikaneder: 'Vestas Feuer'

Immediately preceding Fidelio Beethoven had begun work on his first opera, Vestas Feuer, on a libretto by Schikaneder, librettist of Die Zauberflöte and the first Papageno. Beethoven completed the first scene in basso continuo notation and left numerous sketches for the remainder of Act I. 401DutchOperas/ Cees Nieuwenhuizen managed to reconstruct a lot more from the score than the first scene. In this concert we will have a try-out of some excerpts with piano accompanyment. These serve to have promotional audio material, preceding the world premiere of the complete work with orchestra, at the Beethoven Festival Zutphen in June 2021.


The concert includes Flemish tenor Denzil Delaere and soprano Jolien De Gent. Their careers are currently developing internationally. Delaere is now active in Geneva. He will perform Jenik in the 2021 Reisopera-production of The Bartered Bride. In June 2020 he was scheduled to appear in the Montpellier Festival (cancelled due to the corona crisis). He is part of our ensemble since our very first concert in 2015, after we discovered his beautiful voice in the 2014 production of Karel Miry's 'Charles V'. We discovered Jolien De Gendt's lovely soprano voice a year onwards, in Miry's 'Bouchard d'Avesnes'. Ever since she and Delaere have been central forces in the 401DutchOperas project. In this concert Jolien stars in the ensembles by Servaas de Koninck and Jean des Communes. Apart from her arias, she also appears in the duet and trio from Acajou. Our baritone is the experienced Mattijs van de Woerd. He makes his 401DutchOperas debut in this unique concert with arias en duets from Faëton, Den verliefden rykaart en Dorp in het gebergte. Featuring prominently are some of the 401DutchOperas talents who stood out in earlier 401Try-out concerts: Sarah Konig (mezzosoprano), Gina de Jong (soprano) and Hugo Kampschreur (tenor). For all of them this is their debut in one of our major concerts. Each of them has a distinct timbre and wonderful vocal characteristics that matches the lighter pieces that they will perform here. These are truly gifted, beautiful young artists in which the love for music is both audible and visible. In the gorgeous ensemble pieces, Marion Bauwens, Liza Dedapper and Esther Verheye will provide glamour and sirit to De Koninck's Athalie and Des Communes' Dorp in 't gebergte.

Recording program and aim

The live recording of the concert is intended for inclusion on CD in the first volume of the 401DutchOperas anthology, that will be published in the first half of 2021. With these titles adding to those we previously recorded in our 'Dutch Théâtre Français The Hague 1751-1793' programme, there will be recordings available from nearly all titels in this first part of the 401DutchOperas anthology 1594-1814, focusing on the Dutch operatic baroque era. In the past three years 401DutchOperas has already given 23 concerts, in which more than 150 arias, duets and ensembles from the entire Dutch oepratic history have been performed and recorded.