Domestica Rotterdam is an ensemble formed in 1997 by musicians from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The ensemble’s focus is in unusual repertoire and arrangements, concerts, chamber operas and (educational) musical theatre. Domestica Rotterdam derives its name from Richard Strauss’ Sinfonia Domestica, the theme of which is ‘in our home’.

Domestica made its debut with Arnold Schönberg’s Kammersymphonie at the Gergiev Festival in 1997. Its first CD – Poulenc’s Le bal masqué – was very warmly received by both press and public. With a variety of educational programmes, starting with the musical theatre production Lekker Spekkie, followed by Alien en de stille planeet and Wij bouwen een stad, Domestica caters for young audiences as well.

Opera productions have become one of the core activities of the ensemble. In 2003 Domestica made its opera debut in cooperation with the Rotterdamse Schouwburg theatre and director David Prins in Contact de Opera, which consisted of Menotti’s The Telephone and The Medium. Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma was the ensemble’s successful second opera production, this time in cooperation with Opera Trionfo and director Porgy Franssen. A new cooperation with the Rotterdamse Schouwburg produced Rembrandts Spiegel, a theatre production with text and video by Peter Greenaway and music composed by Vincent van Warmerdam. A new opera composed by Jonathan Dove, Kwasi & Kwame – de zwarte met het witte hart was performed in cooperation with OT-Opera. In 2010 Domestica and OT-Opera performed Le vin herbé, an oratorium by Frank Martin, in a scenic production.

Since then Domestica has given performances on several occasions at the Gergiev Festival, in various museums in Rotterdam and in concerts at the Concert Hall de Doelen, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, theatre Lantaarn/Venster and the Rotterdam City Hall. In the 2005-2006 season, ARMINIUS (Rotterdam’s historic centre for art, culture and debate located near the Boijmans van Beuningen museum) began a new series of events called ‘ARMINIUS Salons, meetings between music and literature’. These events saw a fusion of music by Domestica Rotterdam and literature, combined with narration by the musicologist and actor Huib Ramaer and pupils of the Erasmiaans Gymnasium (a school for pupils aged 12 to 18).

A more recent initiative has been a series of narrative concerts performed in the old Laurenskerk (a large church in Rotterdam), entitled Lof & Lust in de Laurens. Between 2009 and 2017, these concerts included baroque, renaissance and modern music. A new series of concerts in 2017-2018 was called Friends and celebrated all our musical friends, composer Telemann and Domestica’s twentieth birthday. In 2018-2019 Domestica presented a family programme of Carnaval des Animeaux at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and a series of concerts at the Laurenskerk called Faith, Hope and Love with stories about the 50-year reconstruction of the church.

From September 2019 Domestica will present a couple of concerts with the theme of Women, focussed on women composers, writers, and historical figures etc.

(c) Hélène van Domburg