Dutch-Peruvian director Lisenka Heijboer Castañón is fast making a name for herself as one of the most important young directors to emerge out of Europe in recent years. In 2020, she was named on NRC’s definitive list of talents that will shape the future of their disciplines in the next decade, and she was named by Dutch newspaper AD as one to watch in 2021. These accolades are cemented by the widely acclaimed success of her recent debut at Santa Fe, co-directing a new production of Wagner Tristan und Isolde with Zack Winokur, alongside I have missed you forever, a world premiere as part of Dutch National Opera's Opera Forward Festival in 2022.
Upcoming highlights of Heijboer Castañón’s 2023/24 season include two new productions: the highly-anticipated Austrian premiere of John Adams The Gospel According to the Other Mary for the Volksoper Wien, and Mozart Così fan tutte for the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.
Heijboer Castañón's work is characterised by her love for music as a tool for storytelling and community-building with a strong instinct for physical theatre. Her philosophy, which forms the foundation of all of her work, is that theatre is about shared experiences, and this starts during the process of creation, where she creates her work in radical collaboration with her team. She immersed herself in the creation of opera as an assistant director, and later as co-director in collaboration with 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, Laurent Pelly and Zack Winokur, in houses including Dutch National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and Oper Köln, in a broad range of repertoire from Stockhausen to Puccini.
In 2020, Heijboer Castañón was asked by Dutch National Opera to create an alternative season opening, in response to the demands created by the pandemic. She assembled an artistic team, and set up an atelier of composers who worked with her in creating Faust [working title]; a production about sharing, space, and knowledge in order to build a future. Faust [working title] received great critical acclaim, and was widely received as an example of what the future of opera could resemble.
Heijboer Castañón was appointed the prestigious Directing Fellow for the Vocal Arts Department at The Juilliard School in New York during her 2019/20 season, where she worked within the Artist Diploma program on acting techniques, and furthering the understanding of the physical aspects of operatic singing. During her time in New York, she created a movement theatre piece with the 15 musicians of Ensemble Connect at Carnegie Hall.
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, 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.
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.
Dallas Morning News, July 2022
Stage co-directors Zack Winokur and Lisenka Heijboer Castañón bring the human dramas vividly to life
NRC, March 2022
If there are gods in the world of opera it is the directors. How things can be done differently is proven by the team of I have missed you forever
Trouw, September 2020
A miracle took place at Dutch National Opera, Faust [working title] is a celebration of imagination, sparkling with Felliniesque finesse.