4-18 September


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Auditorium

Running time

1:30 hours


From € 35

Der Zwerg

A masterpiece about being different

The opening production of the new season is Lorenzo Viotti’s first as chief conductor. By choosing to make his debut with this opera by the Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky – his most melodic, colourful and atmospheric score – Viotti seeks to share his fascination for this probing, dramatic work.

Campaign image: Tobias Groot

Tragic fairy tale set to music in one act

Der Zwerg, composed in 1922, is perhaps Zemlinsky’s best-known and most powerful opera. The story is an adaptation of a tale by Oscar Wilde and takes place at the birthday party of the Spanish crown princess, who receives a very special present: a little person, who is intended to cheer her up. To the guests’ surprise and amusement, the little man is completely unaware of his small stature; he also possesses a beautiful singing voice, which moves everyone who hears it. It is clear that there is the potential for feelings to develop between the princess and the little man, but what chance do these two have in a world where appearance is everything?

Tragic fairy tale set to music in one act

Illusion en reality

Der Zwerg is an opera about an impossible love which turns into bitter misanthropy. A story about the refusal to accept and respect other people’s differences. But it is also a story about the vulnerability of the artist in a soulless world where only appearances count. Imagination and reality clash with tragic results.


Cinematic opera

Der Zwerg marks Dutch film and theatre director Nanouk Leopold’s opera debut. In contrast to the incisive realism of her films, but in keeping with the style of her visual artwork, she harnesses the power of abstraction and explores the tension between the live singers and film projections on the stage.


Top cast

American tenor Clay Hilley, one of today’s leading heldentenors, performs the title role. After great success in the major American opera houses, he is now making his breakthrough in Europe. The role of the Infanta Clara is interpreted by Ukranian soprano Olga Kulchynska (previously Musetta in La bohème with DNO). Ever since winning first prize in the prestigious Viñas Singing Competition, she has been a mainstay on the greatest European opera stages.

Performance information

New production

Musical direction  Lorenzo Viotti
Direction  Nanouk Leopold
Scenography and video design  Leopold Emmen
Costumes  Wojciech Dziedzic
Lighting design  James Farncombe
Dramaturgy  Luc Joosten

Donna Clara  Olga Kulchynska
Ghita  Annette Dasch
Don Estoban  Derek Welton
Der Zwerg  Clay Hilley
Drei Zofen  Julietta Aleksanyan** | Inna Demenkova* | Maya Gour*
Mädchen  Claire Antoine* | Tinka Pypker***

* Dutch National Opera Studio
** Alumna of Dutch National Opera Studio 
*** Associate artist of Dutch National Opera Studio

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Chorus master Ad Broeksteeg

Sung in German


Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

For over 35 years, The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra have been Dutch National Opera's primary orchestral partners. The orchestra is regarded as one of the best opera orchestras in the world. In September 2021, Lorenzo Viotti will become the chief conductor of both the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Dutch National Opera.

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

In addition to its opera tasks, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra is a regular performer in The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The orchestra works with internationally renowned guest conductors and soloists, as well as representatives of a new generation of top musicians. The orchestra makes classical music accessible to everyone who is open to it: not only on the big stages, but also in community centres, schools and hospitals. In this way, the orchestra provides the finest and best music experience for both classical connoisseurs and new listeners.

With its hospitable home auditoriu, the NedPhO Dome in Amsterdam's 'Indische buurt', the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra is right at the heart of society. Every year, the Orchestra organizes around two hundred activities for music education, neighbourhood participation and talent development.


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Partners De Nationale Opera Studio

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