Opera Prize 2025

Les Nids d'oiseaux
Platform member

La Monnaie/De Munt

Les Nids doiseaux
A community-based Brussels opera about gender and sexuality, since ‘birds of paradise’ can be found in every nest


Les Nids d’oiseaux is community research and commoning project in Brussels leading up to a new opera creation presented on our main stage around the themes of gender and sexuality in different types of family systems. The opera is commissioned by La Monnaie/De Munt and a collaboration with Het Geluid Maastricht.The libretto for this opera will be crowd sourced from conversations by Het Geluid and transcultural youth and family system psychiatrist Glenn Helberg. Three families who differ in cultural background, language, class, religion and all have a queer or trans person (s) in their midst are interviewed as exemplary cases which will be developed into a self-portrait of the diverse city of Brussels holding universal stories at the same time. Societal and human systems become visible, as well as frictions formed by (intergenerational) trauma, traditional patterns, and belief systems. The family stories are interspersed with parts sung by La Monnaie's youth choir. Their choral lyrics are based on their own experiences at the schoolyard, where pecking order, gender perception and identity are formed and fought over. In the closing act, the chosen family will be celebrated as an alternative nest, in which many LGBTI+ people find safety. Our stage will be filled with members of the Brussels queer community, amateur singers, and dancers. This work will be created by the Australian composer Wally Gunn in close collaboration with the team of the Dutch music theatre company Het Geluid. Gable and Romy Roelofsen, founders of Het Geluid, will be responsible for the concept, the design of the community process and stage direction. Queer conductor and theatremaker Manoj Kamps will co-create and conduct the piece.

Artistic Team

In making an opera about the interactions between queer persons and hetero normative society in a diverse city, it’s important to have as many perspectives as possible in the artistic team. The team for Les Nids d’ oiseaux includes women, men, non-binary, queer and straight people, of different generations, with and without children, in a variety of family constructions. We carry very different cultural baggage: We were raised in multiple cultures, including not European countries and environments with strict religious influences. We have roots in formerly colonised countries, and in countries with colonial influence. We speak different languages and we worked in many different fields. Our nestor Glenn Helberg inspired us to commit to the project in a very personal way, with all parts of our being, from the start. This artistic team can switch between codes and classes, between amateurs and so-called high art, between kids and adults, between old and new audiences. We use this skill, next to our professional tool box, to open up this beloved art form to more people. The stage directors, set designer, conductor, interviewer and dramaturg formed a team before. Composer Wally Gunn is new to the team. In the next few months the casting will be done and the artistic team will be completed.

Co-producing Partners

Het Geluid Maastricht



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