J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse

the opera Bach never wrote

J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse

Looking at his dramatic and emotional passions and cantatas, one can imagine that Bach would also have been a fantastic opera composer. It almost came to that, too. Challenged by that thought, OPERA2DAY and the Netherlands Bach Society created 'the opera Bach never wrote'. With success. "OPERA2DAY, once again, has contrived a brilliant new opera" wrote an English reviewer. "A thoroughbred opera" (NRC) that "fits completely into the tradition of OPERA2DAY" (de Volkskrant). 82% of the audience gave five stars and the performance was invited to the renowned international Bachfest Leipzig.

True story of Jan van Leyden

The opera tells the true story of Jan van Leyden. In the 16th century, this actor, pub landlord and tailor became the leader of a movement proclaiming that the world would fall. A salvation state was established. This radicalised and became a dictatorship. We follow John from his initial enthusiasm, through his equally flamboyant and ruthless kingship to his final confession on death row. We thus experience from the inside how the timeless mechanisms of populism, polarisation and radicalisation do their work.

Compelling and grandiose

With gripping, overpowering and emotional music by Bach, the story comes to life. Scenarist and director Serge van Veggel, together with librettist Thomas Höft and baroque specialist and modern composer Panos Iliopoulos, turned the work into a true through-composed opera. Thanks to a compelling and grandiose staging, an outstanding cast and the choir and orchestra of the Nederlandse Bachvereniging conducted by Hernán Schvartzman, Bach will be heard and seen as never before.

Tour dates

J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse can be seen in the Netherlands and Germany from January 2024. In our playlist you will find a complete overview of all dates and theatres.


The enraged citizens of Münster call for the death of the leaders of the just-conquered Anabaptists, including 'king' Jan van Leyden. Catholic bishop Von Waldeck has their corpses hung in cages from the tower of St Lambert's church.

Joiner Heinrich Gresbeck is brought before the bishop. He fled the besieged city and made a model showing how the city could be recaptured. The bishop is unsure what to do with Gresbeck, who stayed in the enemy camp almost to the end. Gresbeck begs to be allowed to write an account of all the events; it will prove his innocence.

We go back in time with Gresbeck. Outside the walls of Münster, we see a rebellious group surrounding merchant Bernhard Knipperdollinck. He is outraged: the bishop has banned the popular preacher Bernhard Rothmann from preaching in the city. Rothmann appears and says the tide will turn. Listeners in the group are two Hollanders, including Jan van Leyden.

The two Hollanders return to Leiden. There, Jan and his wife Marijtje are managers of a pub where bawdy entertainment is presented. We see how actors, dressed as hypocritical bishop and innocent girl, ridicule Catholic confession. The guest is Dieuwer Brouwersdochter. She talks about the ideas of her husband Jan Matthijsz, who feels appointed as a prophet and predicts that the end times will come. A city of heaven will arise on earth. Jan van Leyden realises that Rothmann in Münster needs to hear this. Münster is that heavenly city! Marijtje already sees the storm coming: her husband will once again go out to improve the world elsewhere instead of at home.

In Münster, Rothmann and Knipperdollinck's protest group has been successful. They managed to chase the Catholic troops out of the city. The group from Leiden joined them. They celebrated the victory. Jan Matthijsz, the man who provided everything, is enthusiastically honoured. People share their possessions, shackled nuns are freed and an iconoclasm is imminent. The mood turns when Jan Matthijsz preaches that all are doomed. But Rothmann reminds Jan Matthijsz of his own words: whoever is rebaptised belongs to the elect. Fanatically, the people unite in the idea of a purifying baptism.

The Catholics lay siege to the city. Jan Matthijsz, convinced that he is the hand of God, makes a raid - alone. He is immediately shot dead.

With bread and games, the people are kept happy. The blind seer Dusentschuer is brought before the people. He had a vision in which God designated Jan van Leyden as king, with Dieuwer as queen. Jan says he also dreamt this. The coronation feast can begin, but is disturbed a bishop's envoy who issues an ultimatum. Jan says God has already given him another date, however: the Lord will return to earth at Easter with his followers in Münster. The envoy is chased away. John fires the people to declare war on the pagan enemy. Women must be at the forefront of that battle. John introduces polygamy in order to bring about the army of 144,000 - the number of the elect spoken of in the Bible.



Months later. The siege is suffocating, food is running out. Neither the Messiah nor outside auxiliaries have shown up. John wonders if God is supporting his followers. He tells Rothmann that they will have to unleash the final battle themselves. A handcuffed woman, Elisabeth Wandscherer, is brought in. She refuses to be forcibly married. Knipperdollinck would like to punish her; Dieuwer pleads for compassion. King Jan combines both wishes: he takes her to wife himself, his seventeenth. Dieuwer points out to Jan how far away he has become from the original ideals they shared in Leiden. Jan points out to Dieuwer her hypocrisy: after all, she enjoys her privileged life as queen. After an argument, Dieuwer is left alone and considers her fate.

Gresbeck, in a letter to the bishop, describes the dire hunger in the city, and asks him to relieve the city.

King John does all he can to keep the people on his side. By force, but also by raising their spirits. He organises a parody mass. The Catholic mass, in which the 'real' flesh and blood of Christ is consumed, is ridiculed. In a pagan sacrificial ritual, all citizens bring the last edible goods in the city to the altar. Knipperdollinck steals the show with a real 'Lamb of God'. When he unveils his copious scho- tel, however, the mood turns. Jan forces the Münsterans to keep celebrating. He realises that the apocalypse has indeed come, but that it is they themselves who are going down. Jan sinks into depression. Rothmann and Dieuwer plot to escape from the city together. Many civilians also flee the city in desperation, shelling from both the city and enemy forces. Gresbeck manages to reach the bishop's troops alive. He tells them how to recapture the city.

The bishop moves into the conquered city. He interacts with the still depressed 'king' Jan. Jan has ruined him and the city, says the bishop. Jan sees it differently: the bishop is famous for his recapture. And Jan can make the bishop rich. All he has to do is exhibit the Anabaptist king in a cage and sell tickets for it. Jan is taken away. The bishop tells the people that whoever denounces an Anabaptist will himself be spared. The Münsterans start pointing at each other. But they realise: everyone was complicit.

In prison, Jan receives the bishop's chaplain for a final confession. Jan says he deserves to be killed ten times over. However, the curate makes Jan think more deeply about his own words and actions.

In Cathedral Square, we hear the angry mob. The Anabaptist leaders are led off in chains, heading for their execution. The bishop has (cynically) adopted John's suggestion: the corpses will be displayed in cages. Gresbeck is released and fobbed off with a tip. With his report, he managed to save his life.

Tour dates

J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse can be seen in the Netherlands and Germany from January 2024. In our playlist you will find a complete overview of all dates and theatres.

J.S. Bach – The Apocalypse is a co-production of OPERA2DAY & the Netherlands Bach Society


Music Johann Sebastian Bach, Panos Iliopoulos

Libretto Thomas Höft

Scenario and stage direction Serge van Veggel

Musical direction Hernán Schvartzman

Scenography Herbert Janse

Light design Uri Rapaport

Technical production Ronald Tebra

Costumes Mirjam Pater

Hair & make-up Pilo Pilkes

Artistic leader Netherlands Bach Society Shunske Sato



Jan van Leyden Florian Sievers, tenor

Bernhard Knipperdollinck Wolf Matthias Friedrich, bass/baritone

Bisschop / Jan Matthijsz tba

Dieuwer Brouwersdochter Cecilia Amancay Pastawski, Georiga Burashko, mezzosoprano

Bernhard Rothmann Mattijs van der Woerd, baritone

Henrick Hendrickz / Jacob Dusentschuer Kaspar Kröner, Oscar Verhaar, countertenor

Claes Janssen / Gezant / Kapelaan Johannes von Siburg Wiebe-Pier Cnossen, baritone

Marijtje IJsbrandsdochter / Elisabeth Wandscherer Michaela Riener, soprano

Heinrich Gresbeck Jobst Schnibbe, actor

Katharina Lauren Armishaw, soprano

Woman in rebellious group (scene 3) Emilie Wijers, alt

Jan van Leyden's friend Mike Wijdenbosch, acteur

The bishop's captain ntb

The bishop's soldiers Boris van Bochoven, Janusz Pawlak, Zweitze Zwart, figuranten



Soprano: Aldona Bartnik, Amelia Berridge, Heleen Bongenaar, Lauren Armishaw

Alto: Emilie Wijers, Oscar Verhaar, Iris Bouman, Mercè Bruguera Albello

Tenor: Joao Moreira, Emilio Aguilar, Hugo Maille, Carlos Negrín Lopez

Bass: Matthew Baker, Hidde Kleikamp, Mitchell Sandler, Samuel Wong



Jan van Leyden Carlos Negrín Lopez

Heinrich Gresbeck Howard van Dodemont

Bernhard Knipperdollinck Wiebe-Pier Cnossen

Bernhard Rothmann Matthew Baker

Bisschop Franz von Waldeck tba

Dieuwer Brouwersdochter Lauren Armishaw

Marijtje IJsbrandsdochter Amelia Berridge

Claes Janssen and others Hidde Kleikamp

Envoy / Priest Mitchell Sandler

Katharina Heleen Bongenaar

Vrouw op uitkijk Mercè Bruguera Abelló



Violin: Cecilia Bernardini, Evgeny Sviridov, Lidewij van der Voort, Annelies van der Vegt, Andrew Wong, Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften

Viola: Femke Huizinga, tba

Cello: Lucia Swarts

Double bass: Robert Franenberg

Gamba: Mieneke van der Velden, Anna Lachegyi

Traverso: Marten Root, Doretthe Janssen

Oboe: Rodigro Lopez Paz, Katharina Verhaar

Bassoon: Benny Aghassi, Hannah Vos

Trumpet: Christopher Price, Amir Rabinovitz

Percussion: Marianna Soroka

Organ, harpischord: Menno van Delft

Theorbo: Mike Fentross

J.S. Bach - The Apocalypse


Friday 12 Jan 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Theater aan de Schie, Schiedam

try-out | with introduction

Addres: Stadserf 1
City: 3112 DZ Schiedam
Phone: 010-2467467

Tuesday 16 Jan 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag


Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Wednesday 17 Jan 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag


Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Sunday 21 Jan 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Stadsschouwburg Haarlem, Haarlem

ticket sales start 13 June 2023

Addres: Wilsonsplein 23
City: 2011 VG Haarlem
Phone: 023 - 512 12 12 (keuze 1)

Wednesday 24 Jan 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

SPOT Groningen (Stadsschouwburg), Groningen

Addres: Turfsingel 86
City: 9711 VX Groningen
Phone: 050-3680368

Tuesday 30 Jan 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Parktheater, Eindhoven

ticket sales start 13 May 2023


Addres: Elzentlaan 50
City: 5615 CN Eindhoven
Phone: 040 - 2111122

Thursday 01 Feb 2024 - 20:30 HOUR

Chassé Theater, Breda

Wednesday 07 Feb 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Deventer Schouwburg, Deventer

ticket sales have not yet started

Deventer Schouwburg

Addres: Leeuwenbrug 2
City: 7411 TJ Deventer
Phone: 0900 3000 200

Wednesday 14 Feb 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Thursday 15 Feb 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Thursday 22 Feb 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Utrecht

Addres: Lucasbolwerk 24
City: 3512 EJ Utrecht
Phone: 030-23 02 023

Saturday 24 Feb 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Stadsschouwburg Nijmegen, Nijmegen

Addres: Keizer Karelplein 32h
City: 6511 NH Nijmegen
Phone: 024-3221100

Sunday 25 Feb 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Theater Rotterdam (Schouwburg), Rotterdam

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Schouwburgplein 25
City: 3012 CL Rotterdam
Phone: 010 - 40 44 111

Wednesday 28 Feb 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Flint, Amersfoort

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Coninckstraat 60
City: 3811 WK Amersfoort
Phone: 033 4229 229

Friday 01 Mar 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

De Goudse Schouwburg, Gouda

ticket sales start 3 June 2023

Addres: Boelekade 67
City: 2806 AE Gouda
Phone: 0182 - 513 750

Saturday 02 Mar 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Theaters Tilburg, Tilburg

Addres: Louis Bouwmeesterplein 1
City: 5038 TN Tilburg
Phone: 013 543 22 20

Sunday 03 Mar 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Koninklijk Theater Carré, Amsterdam

ticket sales not yet started

Koninklijk Theater Carré

Addres: Amstel 115-125
City: 1018 EM Amsterdam
Phone: 0900 - 25 25 255 (€ 0,45 p/m)

Tuesday 14 May 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Wednesday 15 May 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

Koninklijke Schouwburg, Den Haag

Koninklijke Schouwburg

Addres: Korte Voorhout 3
City: 2511 CW Den Haag
Phone: 088 356 5 356

Wednesday 22 May 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Theater Münster, Münster

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Neubrückenstraße 63
City: 48143 Münster

Wednesday 05 Jun 2024 - 20:15 HOUR

TAQA Theater De Vest, Alkmaar

Addres: Canadaplein 2
City: 1811 KE Alkmaar
Phone: 072-5489999

Thursday 06 Jun 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Theater aan de Parade, Den Bosch

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Parade 23
City: 5211 KL Den Bosch
Phone: 0900 - 3372723

Monday 10 Jun 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Opera Haus, Leipzig

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Augustusplatz 12
City: 04109 Leipzig

Tuesday 11 Jun 2024 - 20:00 HOUR

Opera Haus, Leipzig

ticket sales not yet started

Addres: Augustusplatz 12
City: 04109 Leipzig


Approximately 2 hours  (intermission not included).


The opera will be sung in German, with English and Dutch subtitling.


  • '

    OPERA2DAY, once again, contrived a brilliant new opera

  • Arts Talk Magazine
This site uses cookies, will you accept?
Check our privacy-statement here.
Accept Refuse