Starting from the 2019-2020 season, Jan Vandenhouwe (1979) will become the new artistic director opera at Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen Royal Ballet Flanders. The decision has been taken yesterday by the board of directors.
Jan Vandenhouwe © Stephan Glagla
The musicologist and opera dramaturge has been working for the past few years as head dramaturge at the Ruhrtriennale, where he is also a member of the management committee. At the Ruhrtriennale, one of the largest European arts festivals, Jan Vandenhouwe is responsible for the opera and music programming, together with Johan Simons.
He first caught the opera spark when he attended a performance of Parsifal at opera in Ghent, at a young age. It led to his choice of studies: musicology and cultural management at the universities of Leuven and Antwerp. After a stint as opera critic for the newspaper De Standaard, he became the personal assistant of Gerard Mortier at the Opéra national de Paris. He later spent several years as artistic coordinator at the Concertgebouw in Bruges.
Jan Vandenhouwe has collaborated as a dramaturge in the past few years with directors such as Ivo van Hove, Johan Simons and Alain Platel. He was also dramaturge for the internationally acclaimed Cosi fan tutte directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaecker at the Opéra national de Paris. Other recent productions in which he has been involved include Nicht Schlafen and C(h)OEURS (Alain Platel), Salome and Brokeback Mountain (Ivo van Hove) and Das Rheingold and Alceste with Johan Simons.
André Gantman, chairman of the board of directors: "In Jan Vandenhouwe, we are making a clear choice for a young director. Although his impressive track record reads like a who’s who of the top of the international art world. Together with him, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the new general manager, Bart Van der Roost, this institution has solid pillars on which we will be able to further build, to make Kunsthuis an artistic beacon in Flanders."
Bart Van der Roost, general manager: "The candidates for this position were all of the highest quality and both the long list and the shortlist were very international. That shows that Opera Vlaanderen is an attractive house with a strong reputation worldwide. The international independent selection committee did not take the decision lightly. With his musical background and the insightful, refreshing vision he brings to opera, Jan made a very convincing case. I am confident that under his artistic leadership, Opera Vlaanderen is headed for an adventurous, exciting and artistically high-flying future."
Jan Vandenhouwe: "Of course, first of all I would like to thank the board of directors and management of the Kunsthuis for their confidence in me. It is also an honour to be able to follow in the footsteps of Aviel Cahn who has done excellent work in these past years at Opera Vlaanderen. It's too early right now to discuss my artistic plans. But with its three theatres in two cities, its own chorus, children’s chorus and orchestra and an increasingly close bond with Royal Ballet Flanders, Kunsthuis has a unique profile within the international opera world, giving it a distinctive identity among the other opera houses in the region. Opera Vlaanderen has every potential to be the beating artistic heart of Flanders and Europe. I'm looking forward to allowing that heart to beat passionately, together with all of the teams at Kunsthuis."
Jan Vandenhouwe will be taking over from Aviel Cahn, who will remain until the summer of 2019, and will then take up the position of director of Le Grand Théâtre de Genève.