The breakthrough years of Aviel Cahn at Opera Vlaanderen have been collected in a book. As it turns out this is not your regular publication. Gesamtkunstwerk is a description often used, sometimes even leaning towards the cliché, but in the case of Opera Out of the Box it fits well.
In 2008, Aviel Cahn is appointed as the youngest opera intendant in Europe at 33 years old. Concerns about his age are countered by the highest expectations about Cahn being a visionary personality and a magnet to address and attract highly talented artists and performers on an international level.
For a start, the canteen is ‘decorated’ with a strong mission statement: WE ARE AN OPERA HOUSE, CREATIVE AND DRIVEN BY PASSION, RELEVANT AND CONTEMPORARY, SHARING OUR DRIVE WITH ALL. And so the story goes, ending in a 720 page book about his period at Opera Vlaanderen, the result of a consistent and daring practice, of out of the box thinking.
This monumental book is housed in an arty slipcase with three different covers, with pictures by the artists that collaborated with Cahn on communicating and working around the seasonal themes during the last five years; as such contemporary artists Koen van den Broek, Kati Heck and Maurizio Cattelan (ToiletPaper) found a new gallery space in their collaboration with Opera Vlaanderen. Opera Out of the Box takes the reader on a trip of seventy productions from the last decade. Moving from text to image, the book then turns into a 200 page photo gallery, a true feast for the eye.
This book is not a mere retrospective of Aviel’s period at Opera Vlaanderen, it guides you through the corridors of the house, but also through the mindset of the creative people behind the scenes. It shows the importance of the good eye and gut feeling of the opera intendant when casting the performers or stage directors: how sustainable crossovers with other creative disciplines build a legacy in the long run, how daring it can be to introduce a first timer in the process of directing an opera piece. How to think in cycles, reinterpret the productions, questioning the relevance of the contemporary opera house and its engagement, communicating with different audiences etc. The book gives you insight into the creative process and thinking of Aviel Cahn, who when confronted with Flanders as a nation within a nation, found an incredibly talented art scene, brimming with guts and character.
The book is enchanting for the opera aficionado and other passionate people in the performing arts scene, but also takes you onto an adventurous and compelling journey in a universe that is normally only discovered behind the stage.
Opera Out of the Box, an international collaboration with 16 authors and 10 interviewees: art critics, artistic directors, dramaturges, a leader from the Catholic church, theatre directors, librettists, composers and stage directors. The book reveals Aviel’s personal, engaging and candid story about his “Flemish decade”.
Opera Out of the Box, published in four languages (NL-UK-FR-DE) by Stockmans Art Books
in collaboration with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Hardcover with slipcase; 720 pages
235 x 300 mm
Jan Henric Bogen
Piet De Volder
Dorian van der Brempt
Amir Nizan Zuabi