The puppetmaker sits alone in a room and slowly places the needle onto a record. The music, and the story, begin...
To accompany the first year of Opera North's Ring Cycle, which opened with Das Rheingold on Saturday 18 June 2011, 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 permeate Lohengrin itself, the resulting short film is an exquisite 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.
Music by Richard Wagner (Lohengrin), sung by Hermann Jadlowker. Film by Matthew Robins.
Matthew Robins is a folk musician who uses shadow puppets on stage. Combining music, live animation, shadow puppetry, stories about foxes and audience craft participation, Matthew has been touring his live show around the country for the last five years, performing at comedy clubs, museums and Tate Modern, as well as The National Theatre, The Barbican and the Roundhouse. Recent shows include Lullaby at the Barbican, and Something Very Far Away at the Unicorn Theatre, which won the 2012 Off-West-End Theatre Award for Best Production for Young People.