20 November 2023 - Royal Conservatoire Antwerp

Initiated by Stijn Saveniers

This seminar seeks to gather different approaches to the performance of operetta, notably the performance of the musical aspect of the genre and its relation to the comical narrative. 

Being able to perform comedy, let alone musical comedy, is still often regarded as a matter of sheer talent; you either have it, or you don’t. That maxim is interesting, since so many educational methods are in place to develop (other) intrinsic qualities, especially in the artistic field, where creativity and craft are the driving forces of an artistic formation. It would be strange, therefore, that the performance of comical or humorous works would solely rely on creativity, and that no craft would be involved. If, however, some form of comical craftsmanship would be acknowledged, this would imply the existence of a comical technique, or at least of technical elements that could be part of a formation method. 

In order to shed light on the existence and transmission of a comical performance tradition in the realm of operetta, conductor, singer, and director experts join in a round table conversation, where they will discuss the remnants of an oral tradition as well as contemporary views on operetta performance. This round table will be preceded by an interview with Adam Benzwi, conductor ao. at the Komische Oper Berlin, on historical approaches as well as his experiences in Berlin. 

After lunch, Stijn Saveniers will present part of his research findings, before diving into the performance of an Eva Dell’Aqua chamber operetta, Une Ruse de Pierrette. 

On the outer limits of the program, Mathieu Weggeman, who recently published a study on the definition of art, will help contextualise the meaning and values of operetta within a wider artistic field; and Jan Dewilde will contribute to contextualising the Belgian operetta tradition within the wider operetta field. All this will be interspersed by some musical amuse-oreilles, as well as coffee and lunch breaks.

image (c) Björn Comhaire


  • 09:30  Doors
  • 10:00  Musical opening – with Geoffrey Degives
    Arthur Van Oost, from Beulemans marie sa fille, Aria ‘Laissez-moi partir’
  • 10:15  Talk Stijn Saveniers – Jan Dewilde on Belgian operetta
  • 10:45  State of Affairs – on current approaches to operettaVideo talk with Adam Benzwi, Conductor Komische Oper Berlin
  • 11:15  Coffee break
  • 11:45  Round table about the existence and workings of an oral tradition in operetta
    With Fabrice Pillet, Sybrand van der Werf, Edmond Saveniers and Marco Bakker
  • 12:30  Musical intermezzo – with Geoffrey Degives
    Charles Mélant, from La Part du Feu, Aria ‘Je suis un troubadour qui passe…’
  • 12:45  Free lunchbreak
  • 14:00  Presentation ‘Tasting palette of musical humour techniques’ – Stijn Saveniers
  • 14:30  Semi-explicative musical performance of Une ruse de Pierrette, Eva Dell’Acqua
    With Alice Wielant, Geoffrey Degives and Ensemble du Beurre et des Œufs
  • 15:30  Conclusive remarks
  • 16:00  The end


Location: deSingel Antwerp, Zwarte Zaal
Registration: please register before 20 November using the form
Participants can also attend a part of the seminar. For more information, please contact stijn.saveniers@ap.be