The O. Festival for Opera. Music. Theatre. has unfolded in a very satisfactory way for visitors, makers, and organisers alike. A fully corona proof programme, with 1.5m social distancing, at a very difficult time for festivals and events. Included in the festival were unique site-specific performances and mesmerizing concerts in venues across the city, featuring up-and-coming artists as well as better-known names. Not to mention unexpected musical combinations, films, pop-ups, and late-night shows. O. was all over Rotterdam for seven days. It closed on Sunday evening with a Late Night Lullabies concert by Lisette ma Neza and pianist Neil Akenzua.
Artistic director Guy Coolen said this about O. 2021:
“A visitor approached me on O.’s last day to say that she had been coming to our festival for 10 years. She asked what we had done this year to infuse the festival with so much energy … And that is exactly how we ourselves experienced the past week. A raft of new locations, partners and formats as well as a superbly enthusiastic audience. Together, we co-created a fantastic festival!”
Over 65 productions were programmed. This included a number of new formats, such as O. First Dates that saw artists with very different musical backgrounds meet each other for the first time on stage, leading to numerous special moments. Another fresh approach in 2021 was O. Lab, which offered visitors a look behind the scenes of works in progress.
Several productions premiered at O., including Club Gewalt’s Antropoceen, the musical on the roof of the Hofplein railway viaduct (aka Hofbogen). The walking tour on Quarantaine Eiland, produced by O. and Opera2Day, was performed nine times a day during O. while the new festival location, Theater Zuidplein, hosted ICONS, an ode to five legendary female singers, inspired by the personal stories of fans and aficionados. AVL Mundo served as a festival inside a festival, with various performances per day plus a film programme. O. opened with the opera film Ring of Resilience by Arlon Luijten.
O. is Operadagen Rotterdam’s new name. O. is for visitors driven by curiosity. O. champions opera and opens up the genre. O. focuses on adventure, talented makers, and crosslinks between genres ranging from performance to electropop and from tearjerkers to street culture. O. thinks outside the box. O. is open-minded. O. evokes emotions, innovates, and connects. O. is a festival as diverse as Rotterdam itself.
Next year, O. will take place in late May around the Whitsun weekend (a public holiday in the Netherlands).
O. gebruikt haar stad als podium en decor. Veel voorstellingen zijn op onalledaagse en onontdekte locaties in de stad: pleinen, woonkamers, kerken, een oude wasserij, winkel, bovenop de Bijenkorf en zelfs een fitnesscentrum.