The recording is a joint production of ZDF/ARTE and the Saxon State Opera as well as the Semperoper Ballett.

ARTE Concert will broadcast "A Swan Lake" live from the Semperoper Dresden on December 17, 2023 at 7 pm. The stream will be available on for three months. Since its foundation in 2018, Semperoper Dresden is partner of the European ARTE Opera network, which comprises 23 opera houses and festivals from 14 countries.



Conductor Thomas Herzog
Choreography and Staging Johan Inger
Music Pjotr I. Tschaikowsky
Set Design with EstudiodeDos Leticia Gañán, Curt Allen Wilmer
Costume Design Salvador Mateu Andujar
Lighting Design Tom Visser
Video Emilio Valenzuela Alcaraz
Assistant to the Choreographer Zoran Markovic
Dramaturgy Gregor Acuña-Pohl, Regina Genée

ZOE, Königin  Zarina Stahnke
ZENO, König  Christian Bauch
BENNO, guest and Einsiedler  Jón Vallejo
THEO, Zoes Vertrauter  Joseph Gray
KALLISTO, Prince  Skyler Maxey-Wert
ODETTE, Schwanenjungfrau  Ayaha Tsunaki
GOTTHEIT / SOHN  Mateo Cigal

Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden

Generously supported by the Semperoper Foundation



After his acclaimed literary adaptations of »Carmen« and »Peer Gynt«, Johan Inger now turns to a classic ballet that will reveal yet another facet of his art: »Swan Lake«. In 2023, the Swedish choreographer has reinterpreted this great work for Semperoper Ballett and, in so doing, addressed some profound questions: How are personal relationships affected by violence and manipulation? And what roles do personal freedom, respect and acceptance play in a loving relationship?

»Der geraubte Schleier« (The Stolen Veil) from Johann Karl August Musäusʼs collection of »German Folk Stories« (1784) is believed to be one of the inspirations behind the popular narrative ballet. This fairy tale, partly set in the Ore Mountains near the »Swan City« of Zwickau, provides an exciting alternative to the traditional interpretation of »Swan Lake«. Based on this story and accompanied by a new arrangement of Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky’s music, Johan Inger has devised a choreographic reinterpretation of Musäusʼs fantastic tale revolving around the motif of the swan-maiden.

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A deity bestows the gift of transforming into swans upon selected souls.

Act I
Queen Zoe, who with the help of a magic veil can turn into a swan, is unhappy in her marriage with King Zeno. One day Benno, a guest, arrives at their castle. He and the Queen take a liking to each other. However, the King catches them and has Benno arrested. Theo, Zoe‘s confidant, helps him escape and tells him that he can find his beloved at a faraway lake. Only once a year can the Queen fly there in order to take a rejuvenating bath. In the hope of seeing her again, Benno embarks on a journey through different countries. At the said Swan Lake they express their love to each other and promise to meet again. When Zoe returns home and arrives at a ball too late, Zeno punishes her by destroying her veil. At the lake, Benno waits in vain for his beloved.

Act II
Twenty years later, the now widowed Queen Zoe has to send her son Kallisto off to war. On the shores of the Swan Lake, of all places, he is wounded and cared for by Benno. The hermit, who has taken in the Prince like a son, initiates him into the secret of the lake and they witness the ritual of the swan people, who take their annual bath. When Benno once again does not find Zoe among the group, he dies in despair. At the same moment, Kallisto discovers the swan maiden Odette and falls in love with her. To prevent her from flying away, he steals her veil and hides it. Seeking protection, she takes the Prince for her saviour and begins a life together with him at the lake. Having searched for Kallisto, Theo eventually finds him and asks him to come back home. However, he refuses and remains with Odette and their child in the seclusion he has chosen. Increasingly suffering from Kallisto‘s violence, the life of his family changes for the worse. Just at this time, his wife rediscovers her veil and realizes that she had been deceived. This moment is also witnessed by Zoe, who has come to personally convince her son to return to court. She recognizes herself in Odette and encourages her to reclaim her freedom ...