From floating tulips and Pinocchio to clarinet music and Gainsborough portraits, here’s our pick of the best things to do in April.
Gasp at Gainsborough’s portraits
Gainsborough In His Own Words is the first exhibition in the Netherlands to feature the work of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). He was the dominant British portraitist of the second half of the 18th century, although he preferred painting landscapes. The portrait shown here is from 1758 and is of his daughters Mary and Margaret.
The exhibition consists of around 30 paintings and 30 watercolours, on loan from a variety of international museums and collections. In addition, there are a number of the letters on display which Gainsborough wrote to family, friends and patrons, and which provide an intriguing look at the personality of the man.
Rijksmuseum Twente, Enschede until July 24. www.rijksmuseumtwente.nl
Hot on the heels of Batman v Superman comes the year’s second big blockbuster: Captain America: Civil War. Chris Evans third outing as Steve Rogers/Captain America sees the superhero community of the Marvel comics split by legislation designed to keep them in check. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is guilt ridden en wholly supportive of the new law. But Rogers is more conflicted, leaving the most morally upright of the group wondering where his loyalties should lie. The promise is of a superhero film with considerable emotional weight behind the usual devastating punch-ups.
Cinemas around the country, April 28.
Shiver at this nuclear tale
In Chernobyl and the Future of Nuclear Energy, and almost exactly 30 years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster unfolded, Professor Nathal Severijns talks about the sequence of incidents that caused the disaster, how the radioactivity spread afterwards, the main consequences for mankind and the environment, and the present situation at the site. He also makes a comparison with the other, more recent nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and considers the differences between the civil nuclear industry of today and that of the future. Severijns is Professor in Nuclear Physics and Experimental Physics, Institute for Nuclear and Radiation Physics, KU Leuven, and programme director of POC Medical Radiation Physics.
Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht, April 25. www.sg.unimaas.nl
Enjoy colourful tulips
The month of April welcomes the Tulip Festival Amsterdam with tulips of various varieties blooming in beds and pots at 60 locations around the city. For instance, there are tulips in the fountain on the Museumplein, alongside the roads on Van der Pekstraat in Noord, and on the wharves outside the Eye film museum and science museum Nemo. Some 30,000 bulbs have been planted in beds near the Maritime Museum and 25,000 more at the Rijksmuseum.
Various locations, Amsterdam, April 1 to 30. www.tulipfestival.com
Feel the drama of a famous love story
The National Opera is joined for the first time by the National Ballet for this production of Hector Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. The director and choreographer is Sasha Waltz who combines opera and dance on a completely equal footing to tell the story of this ‘dramatic symphony’. In his score, Berlioz referred to the singing roles as the vocal types contralto, tenor and bass because, he said, they function primarily as narrators. The chorus plays a prominent role, sometimes as a commentator and sometimes as the two rival families.
Muziektheater, Amsterdam, April 15, 16, 20, 21, 24 (matinee), 25, 28 and May 1 (matinee). www.operaballet.nl
Tempt a monster fish
The Efteling, the Netherlands largest theme park, has added another story to its Fairy Tale Forest. Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy and whose nose grows if he tells a lie, is the 29th story in the Forest and sits alongside Little Red Riding Hood and The Red Shoes. The designers of Pinocchio have visualised three episodes from Carlo Collodi’s story, including the boy’s reunion with his father, Geppetto, in the stomach of a giant fish. Visitors need to tempt the monster, which has breath smelling of rotting shrimps, with fresh fish in order for father and son to escape.
The Efteling opened in 1952 and is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Over the years, it has evolved from a nature park with a Fairy Tale Forest into a full-sized amusement park, with a wide array of attractions for young and old.
Efteling, Kaatsheuvel, all year round. www.efteling.com
The English Theatre celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with an unusual programme of events. For instance, Macbeth gets a make-over in a contemporary cloak-and-dagger version by director Lucas De Man and writer Jamal Ouariachi, influenced by the tv series House of Cards, and Hamlet becomes a theatre-dance performance, choreographed by the Tunisian dancer Meher Awachri and set in one of the rough neighbourhoods of the Tunisian capital, Tunis. There is more Macbeth from the British theatre company Infinite Jest and a dramatic presentation of a speech by Judge Theodor Meron on Shakespeare and just war.
Schouwburg and other venues, The Hague, April 18 to 24. www.theenglishtheatre.nl
Check out the clarinet
The Dutch Clarinet Festival is a new festival completely dedicated to the clarinet and featuring top-class artists from the fields of classical, jazz, pop and world music. The opening concert is given by the Netherlands Wind Ensemble (photo) which will share the stage with some of the soloists making an appearance later on in the festival, such as Joris Roelofs and David Kweksilber. One of the highlights is the Royal Clarinets, featuring the clarinet section of the world famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a programme of works by composers who maintained close friendships with famous clarinet players of their time. There are works by Georg Philipp Telemann, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Guillermo Lago and world premieres by Dutch composer Tom Schipper.
Muziekgebouw and Bimhuis, Amsterdam, April 7 to 10. www.klarinetfestival.nl
Watch bodies gyrate
Absolute America by ballet company Introdans features four American dance creators, composers and designers, each with a completely individual style, from punk to acrobatically muscled. The choreographers are Karole Armitage with the early work GoGo Ballerina (1988), performed in the Netherlands for the first time; two of the most famous figureheads of American modern dance, Jennifer Muller and Lucinda Childs; and Robert Battle, director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York. The music comes from great names such as Jimi Hendrix and Philip Glass and the stage sets from artists such as Jeff Koons and Sol LeWitt.
Schouwburg, Leiden, April 6; Stadstheater, Arnhem, April 8 and 9; Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam, April 25. www.introdans.nl
Visit a new museum
Amsterdam has gained a new museum. Opened at the end of March, the Cromhouthuis was the home of the Cromhout family, one of the richest and most powerful families in Amsterdam during the 17th and 18th centuries. They provided the city with a number of mayors over the ages and took a leading role in the extension of the canal network in the centre. They lost their position, however, when a family member converted to Catholicism and the dynasty ended with a childless Princess in Paris in 1832.
The rich furnishings and paintings of the house were scattered and lost over the years and very little of the original contents remain. The interior is therefore not a literal reconstruction but, with the judicious loan of objects from collections such as that of the Amsterdam Museum, gives an idea of how the family would have lived.
Cromhouthuis, Amsterdam, all year. www.cromhouthuis.nl