To accompany the first year of Opera North’s Ring Cycle, which opens with Das Rheingold on Saturday 18 June, Opera North Projects asked filmmaker and musician Matthew Robins to respond to a piece of Wagner’s music in film. He chose ‘Mein Lieber Schwan,’ from the last act of Lohengrin. Inspired by the themes that run through Lohengrin itself, the resulting short film is a tale of lost love in puppetry and stop-motion animation.

Influenced by the films of Jan Svankmajer and Eastern European animators, it explores the power of puppetry to move us. The puppetmaker is himself a puppet, you can see quite clearly that his hands are papier-maché and wire, you can see the newsprint under the paint and the glue on his glasses. Yet the story he tells of his wife and a mysterious swan is very real indeed. An almost otherworldly 1914 recording by Hermann Jadlowker is at the heart of the film.

Mein Lieber Schwan
by Matthew Robins

Music by Richard Wagner (Lohengrin)
Sung by Hermann Jadlowker (1877 – 1953)
Commissioned by Opera North Projects