Robbers, Yuri

General: Yuri Robbers was born in Leiderdorp in 1973.

Education: Robbers started writing while attending the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden, and occasionally published poems or essays in small journals and magazines. He was further educated at Leiden University where he graduated in biology, specialising in animal behaviour and in mathematical biology. While earning his degree, he also attended classes on many subjects unrelated to his field of study, such as the humanities, which helped him further develop his writing skills.

Career: After graduating from university, Robbers pursued a career in science and education. He is currently working as a teacher of biology at the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden, and as a researcher in neurophysiology at the Leiden University Medical Center. As such, most of his writings have been scientific and educational. He has co-authored several books on animal behaviour, and has written a number of papers, essays and columns on various topics. Still, his head has always remained full of stories and the appeal of fiction for him has been growing stronger. He has written some poems, short stories and fairy tales, none of which have been published. In 2015, however, he started working on his first libretto, "All Rise!". This has been put to music by Jan-Peter de Graaff and was first performed in 2016. All Rise is a story that experiments with language, with the sounds of various languages and with translating errors. The story explores political and ethical themes, in a dystopian parliament that is vaguely reminiscent of the government in George Orwell's 1984. This opera has been written in the six great opera languages, as each character speaks their own language, and one overwrought translator has to make sure that all goes well. 
Currently, rehearsals are underway for a second opera, this time a chamber opera, by De Graaff and Robbers, called "De Grens". This opera was commissioned by Salone dell'Opera and tells the story of Kaiser Wilhelm II arriving in the Netherlands seeking asylum near the end of World War I. He has to wait all day for news from The Hague: will the government accept his request? While he waits, he converses with the station master. The clash of cultures and personalities paints a picture of not only Kaiser and the station master, but also of the refugee crises then and now. 
Robbers is currently teaching, working on the final stages of his PhD thesis, finalising a new book on animal behaviour, speaking to publishers about his first novella, and working on a third libretto in order to continue the fruitful and inspiring cooperation with De Graaff.