401DutchOperas Anthology Vol I

BookCoverThe first part of the 401DutchOperas anthology will be published in the Dato Fund mid-2023. The book has been in the making for more than twelve years. it is based on source research in partner organization the Netherlands Music Institute, the Royal Collections and other collections, as well as the 401DutchOperas archive in which all sound documents of Dutch operas from the past 120 (!) years have been brought together. Indeed, from 1901, when the very first records appeared in the Netherlands. The most important audiovisual pillar under the book is the 401Concerts series, in which highlights of almost all works from this first part have been performed and recorded. Highlights of many of the completely unknown works from the anthology can be listened to directly on the CD in the book.

Contents of the book

Pages: 500+
Hardcover: Hardcover with dust wrapping
Luxurious edition: the handbook is luxuriously printed on beautiful silk-mat paper, richly illustrated and beautifully designed by design eater Lilian van de Zande.
1. Chronological overview of Dutch opera composers from the early days (Sweelinck, incidental music, Vondel/Padbrué, Constantijn Huygens and publisher Andries Pels) to the Amsterdam Liedschool 1687-1715 (Hacquart/Buysero, David Petersen, Hendrik Anders, Johannes Schenck), the first half of the 18th century (Quirinus van Blankenburg, Willem de Fesch, Zingoni), the Dutch operas from the periods of Stadtholder Willem V (Jacob Jan van Wassenaer Obdam, Josina van Boetzelaer, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Belle van Zuylen, Bartholomeus Ruloffs, Jean- André Colizzi, Johann Meissner, Johannes Just, the Mulligen brothers, Baron Gottfried van Swieten and Mozart, whose first opera experiment started in The Hague is made public) and the French Period (with Bartholomeus Ruloffs, Jean des Communes and Ludwig van Beethoven, whose story is being investigated that he was born not in Bonn but in Zutphen).
2. A biographical sketch is made for each composer, followed by the brief contents of operas by his or her hand, of which at least one fragment of music has been preserved. This is concluded with a discussion of the work and a full discography.
3. Timeline: chronological overview of all operas composed from 1594-1814, including the many operas whose music was lost in successive theater fires or otherwise.

A readable book

The handbook is based on scientific research, but written in an accessible way with the sole aim of making these composers and operas accessible to the widest possible audience. In the Netherlands, in the field of opera, both masterpieces have been composed and groundbreaking works, such as Justs The Merchant of Smyrna, a protest against slavery wrapped in music. Wassenaer Obdam's adaptation of Belle van Zuylen's novel Le noble caused a stir and his 'secret' first free mason opera, Les nôces de Vénus, was an astonishing paean to military libertinism. In the 18th century, the Netherlands had much more artistic freedom than the neighboring countries.

Pioneering work

The above serves primarily to illustrate that the 401DutchOperas Anthology is a groundbreaking work that sweeps away the notion that nothing of value in the field of opera has been composed in the Netherlands in four centuries of music history. The public is curious about historical works from their own soil. For example, the performances of Jan van Gilse's opera Tijl at Soesterberg Air Base in 2017 were completely sold out, for 10 performances with over 1200 seats per performance. The main problem is that opera houses and organizations do not want to meet the technical challenges that pre-war Dutch operatic manuscript scores present to them. Apart from the 401DutchOperas Foundation no opera institution in the Netherlands has a heritage objective. From a commercial point of view, there is nothing to gain for them from the enormous effort required to make Dutch operatic manuscript scores playable. A reasonable result in ticket sales is much easier to achieve with a ready-to-play and copyright-free score of any 19th century successful opera. It seems that only 401DutchOperas is currently capable of realizing performances such as the recent world premiere of Beethoven's Vestas Feuer in a reconstruction of our own by Cees Nieuwenhuizen.

Beethoven in the 401DutchOperas Anthology?

CeesNieuwenhuizenWebThe alleged Zutphen birth of Beethoven led to a wonderful Beethoven Festival there, which celebrates the composer with a smile as a 'Zutphenaar'. Seghers: 'In the 401DutchOperas anthology I listed all the pros, cons and missing links. The reader may draw his or her own conclusion. In any case, Beethoven would not become a Dutchman if he happened to have been born at a Zutphen fair in 1772. Then the Dutch national Poet Vondel should in turn be called a German author, since he was born in Cologne. During my research, however, I fell under the spell of the almost forgotten Vestas Feuer torso, when I discovered that numerous unexplored sketches beyond the first scene existed, that no one had ever examined. I found a kindred spirit in the Dutch Beethoven specialist Cees Nieuwenhuizen, who adapted the torso and sketches for us into a historical performance score. Regardless of where Beethoven was born exactly, Nieuwenhuizen's reconstruction of Vestas Feuer makes this 401DutchOperas version a German-Dutch work that has its own place in the 401DutchOperas manual, and of course it is also present on the CD in the book.'


Because there are no recordings of 99% of the more than 400 pre-war Dutch operas, interested readers would never be able to hear a single note of all those Dutch operas in the anthology. That is why 401DutchOperas started organizing concerts in 2015 in which highlights from all kinds of Dutch operas are performed and recorded. The concert recordings have the direct purpose of being published in CD editions, downloads and in the books themselves. The Vestas Feuer recording will be released on the CD in the anthology, along with out Amsterdamse leidschool concert. The book will be published in the DATO series by Lecturis in 2023. It includes over 50 Dutch operas from the period 1595-1814 that survived fires, floodings, and the tooth of time.