Built in 1986, the Amsterdam Music Theatre (Het Muziektheater Amsterdam) has been home to the Dutch National Opera (De Nederlandse Opera, est. 1946) and the Dutch National Ballet (Het National ballet, est. 1961), both of which, as their names imply, have been the main opera and ballet institutions in the Netherlands. Each of these three entities had been operating with their own names and identities but as of this February they will be sharing a common name — Dutch National Opera & Ballet — and identity system designed by Amsterdam-based Lesley Moore.
The Dutch National Opera & Ballet also has ambitions to share more of what happens backstage with their audience. Traditionally the focus has been solemnly on the performances. What is shown on stage is world class, but to really grasp that it is important to understand what has been done to get there. From the artistic choices being made, the military-like repetitions, the historical research, the workshops and the craftsmen behind every performance.
Visually, we translated these multiple stories into layers on top of each other. As a story has a certain chronology, the layers do too. The layering also refers to the nature of theatre; on- and backstage.
The logo works as a frame, creating space for the story being told at that specific moment. Top left [on the website and posters] is always the typographic logo, bottom left always the icon of the theatre.
An important aspect of the new strategy, is to focus more on the location as a hub for creation, production and presentation. Until now the theatre itself has been very anonymous, despite the success of the two companies. The icon of the building emphasizes this shift, and illustrates the brand architecture; one house, two art forms.
The previous three logos had that weird Dutch vibe that only Dutch cultural institutions can get away with but, let’s face it, none of them you would want to take home to meet your parents. The new identity, by contrast, is classy as a freshly-pressed tuxedo. Starting with the drawing of the building which is by far one of the best translations of a building into an icon, the logo is handsome and sophisticated with just enough mystery in the cropping of the typography. The consistency in line thickness through every element is what wins me over — it’s just perfect.
In application, the logo works as a frame that can be broken apart with the logo switching to “Ballet” or “Opera” as needed on top but always underlined by the building and the full name on the bottom. The beautiful imagery underneath certainly helps add drama and gravitas to the project. Overall, this is simplicity done right and executed perfectly without losing the flair and feeling of opera and ballet.
Concept: Lesley Moore & Zigmunds Lapsa
Design: Lesley Moore
Project management: Roel Stavorinus
Animation: Simon Francois
Music: Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt)
Photography: Petrovsky & Ramone
Thanks to Fabian Valkenberg for the tip.