Behind the libretto: Animal Farm

programme editor & Moderator
In cooperation with
‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’: Animal Farm is an operatic adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel, depicting the struggles of farm animals as they overthrow their human ruler and ultimately fall under the control of a new leader from their own ranks.

In this episode of Behind the libretto, programme editor Isabel Sheridan and her guests will delve into the central themes of the opera and their relevance to contemporary society. What similarities can we draw between the story of Animal Farm and today’s world? Can opera, as an art form, be used to address current societal issues? And how do the artists behind the opera reflect on their work in the context of today’s social and political climate?

Following the discussion, live music from the opera will be performed by cast members from the production Marcel Beekman and Francis van Broekhuizen.

Alexander Raskatov (1953) is a highly acclaimed Russian composer. In his adaptation of Animal Farm, Raskatov has infused his own personal allusions to Russia’s complex political history (and reality).  

Lisenka Heijboer Castañón is a young Dutch-Peruvian director and theatre maker. She made her main stage debut at Dutch National opera in 2020 with a new creation: Faust [working title] (“an important contribution to the renewal of the genre of musical theatre: away from the museum right into the middle of social actuality” (Bachtrack). Following this success she created I have missed you forever, a new production for DNO, further exploring collaborative process in opera, that premiered at ITA during the Opera Forward Festival 2022. In the summer of 2022 she directed a new production of Tristan und Isolde together with Zack Winokur at the Santa Fe Opera (‘There is a refreshing feeling of trust to it all, a sensible desire not to get in the way of what clearly remains to these young collaborators a basically human story — and a willingness, perhaps above all, to make space for the music.’ The New York Times).

Eva Peek is a book critic at NRC and an editor at de Nederlandse Boekengids. She obtained her bachelor’s degrees in Literature and Russian at the University of Amsterdam and studied History at Leiden University. She studied and worked in St. Petersburg, Paris, Berlin, and Kiev.

About Animal Farm
Animal Farm is part of the Opera Forward Festival. The opera is directed by Damiano Michieletto and will premiere on the 3rd of March 2023.


Alexander RaskatovComposer | Photo: Lionel Erpelding
Lisenka Heijboer CastañónTheatre maker & director | Photo: Milagro Elstak
Marcel BeekmanSinger
Francis van BroekhuizenSinger
Eva PeekJournalist NRC