© Aviya Wyse

Lisenka Heijboer Castañón is a Dutch-Peruvian stage director and theatre maker whose practice is characterized by her search for collaborative process and space for sound. She looks to create work in which there is always a moment for joy, a presence of magic and room for chaos.

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 a new production for DNO, further exploring collaborative process in opera and new narratives; I have missed you forever 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 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). 

Heijboer Castañón immersed herself in the creation of opera as assistant director, and later as co-director to Lotte de Beer. Besides her work with de Beer, she has assisted a star roster of stage directors including Pierre Audi, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Monique Wagemakers and Laurent Pelly, in houses including Dutch National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and Oper Köln, in a broad range of repertoire from Stockhausen to Puccini.

In 2019/20 she was appointed the prestigious Directing Fellow for the Vocal Arts Department at The Juilliard School in New York. During her time in New York, she created a movement theatre piece with the 15 musicians of Ensemble Connect at Carnegie Hall. Through Movement was a piece about life and loss, wrought through chamber music, movement and light.

As a young artist, Heijboer Castañón worked at The Royal Concertgebouw and Dutch National Opera, and created new work to critical acclaim for the NJO Muziekzomer, Opera Zuid, and the Grachtenfestival. In the spring of 2019 she directed a concert staging of Parsifal at the Bochumer Symphoniker, and was invited to direct the International Young Patrons Gala at Dutch National Opera & Ballet. In the summer of 2019 she premiered a new opera for which, with her company Operafront, she was responsible from inception through commissioning, producing, funding, creation and delivery. The work, Vrouwenstemmen, was created for the Grachtenfestival and reflected upon 100 years of women’s voting rights in the Netherlands. The production involved two visual artists creating autonomous work for the performance space, and the founding of a community women’s chorus to star alongside the soloists. A truly multi-disciplinary artist, through her work with Operafront, Heijboer Castañón recently collaborated on and co-produced a short film titled An die Ferne with Opera Zuid about isolation and imagination, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

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