This show was to be seen in September 2021


OperaVision, Online

Running time

1:30 hours


Not available

Der Zwerg

A masterpiece about being different

PLEASE NOTE: This is a free stream of the performance Der Zwerg.

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

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Stream Der Zwerg

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 soprano Lenneke Ruiten.

Performance information

New production

Libretto Georg C. Klaren, after a story of Oscar Wilde

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

Donna Clara  Lenneke Ruiten
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


Repetitiefoto Der Zwerg
Rehearsal Der Zwerg, photo: Milagro Elstak
Repetitiefoto Der Zwerg
Rehearsal Der Zwerg, photo: Milagro Elstak
Repetitiefoto Der Zwerg
Rehearsal Der Zwerg, photo: Milagro Elstak
Repetitiefoto Der Zwerg
Rehearsal Der Zwerg, photo: Milagro Elstak
Repetitiefoto Der Zwerg
Rehearsal Der Zwerg, photo: Milagro Elstak
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.


Order tickets

Der Zwerg will be streamed from Saturday 18 September at 19.00 for free on OperaVision and this page. The stream will remain available for three months thereafter. 

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Lied von der blutenden Orange - Der Zwerg

Der Zwerg

Watch the trailer

Der Zwerg

Der Zwerg - podcast

In this (Dutch) podcast, Jasmijn van Wijnen, junior dramaturge at Dutch National Opera, gives an auditive insight into the story, the staging and the music of the performance Der Zwerg. She speaks with Luc Joosten, head of dramaturgy at Dutch National Opera. He tells you more about the staging of the work and the artistic choices made by director Nanouk Leopold. Afterwards, together with repetiteur Ernst Munneke, he will take you on a musical journey through Alexander Zemlinsky's score.

Der Zwerg

By: Jasmijn van Wijnen

The visual world of Der Zwerg part 1

The visual world of Der Zwerg

The visual world of Der Zwerg part 2

Der Zwerg
In the media
Raving reviews

With a flexible hand, [Lorenzo Viotti] leads the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra through an intensely growing, multidimensional score, which gains even more cachet and dimension because of the orchestra's position behind the stage instead of underneath.

5 September

The music is beautifully sung by tenor Clay Hilley as der Zwerg, soprano Lenneke Ruiten as the cold princess, soprano Annette Dasch as Ghita, the only court member with a heart, and bass baritone Derek Welton as Don Estoban. 

6 September

The melancholic melodies, the rhythmic and harmonious orchestral intermezzos, the sonorous choral intermezzos by female voices of the Dutch opera choir and the musically demanding vocal accompaniment in the tense story lines make this opera worthy to recommend. 

6 September

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