Classic Danish fairytale, Wild Swans, comes to life at the Sydney Opera House

I was a bit of a bookworm as a child.  The combination of being a complete social dumb-dumb and my love for reading anything I could get my hands on (the alternative was actually sitting at my little desk and doing my maths homework) meant that I was into reading lots of different genres of stories. The one genre I totally missed out on as I grew older was fairytales.

Maybe it’s because these stories were best enjoyed when they were being read to you, with voices and sound effects delivered usually by a parent or guardian.  Maybe because, as you get older, it just got too fanciful to indulge in faraway lands, magical creatures and the classic battles between good and evil, where good always, always, triumphs.  Life ain’t really built like that, and enjoying fairytales just delayed the inevitable. Hearts are broken. Lives are lost. Nice people finish last.

But why and when do we start to grow so cynical, and who are we to deny that sense of hope and wonder for the next generation?  On Sunday, 19th Julythere will be 2 performances of Hans Christian Andersen‘s timeless story, The Wild Swansin the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House. It features music by Elena Kats-Chernin, narration by Amanda Muggleton, violin by Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich, piano by John Martin and is directed by Rodney Fisher.

Image courtesy of (license)

Image courtesy of Creative Commons (license)

When I spoke to Victoria about this production (which she is funding and producing), she told me how it was originally broadcast as part of ABC Classic FM’s Sunday Live program, which played to a packed house in the ABC’s Ultimo studio.  People who weren’t able to nab a seat in the Eugene Goossens Hall that October day in 2014 told her how much they enjoyed it, but how they wished they had caught the performance live instead.  Thankfully, Victoria was able to gather together the cast to put on another run at the Sydney Opera House this year in July, a perfect event for the school holidays.

So what is exactly is The Wild Swans about? It tells the story of a forlorn princess (naturally), trying to reverse the curse her evil stepmother (of course) has put on her eleven brothers, who have been turned into swans and banished from the kingdom. Their sister, Princess Elisa, is their only hope of regaining human form, but in order to do this she must endure hardship and sacrifice, and persevere despite the odds placed in front of her.

Image courtesy of Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich and production promoters

Image courtesy of Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich and production promoters

It’s a beautiful tale about love and selflessness, which will resonate with children – young and old.  The Wild Swans music, written by Kats-Chernin for the ballet (performed by the Australian Ballet in 2003), is evocative and exciting, and will inspire music appreciation in children as they listen to Muggleton’s narration of the Hans Christian Anderson story, along with the music.  Not only that, but it may also bring the grown-ups just that much closer to the magic of stories they thought they had long ago left behind.

The Wild Swans is playing at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, 19th July in two sessions: 3pm and 6pm.  Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for seniors and $25 for students and under 18s. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to  For enquiries call 02 9250 7777.



  1. […] and I had been emailing back and forth for weeks and weeks, talking about her new production, The Wild Swans at the Sydney Opera House.  When we’d finally settled on a suitable date and time, Victoria […]

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