It was January 2012 if I remember correctly.
At the theater where I work, Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin” had just been, all performances were sold out.
A swan plays an essential role in this opera. He comes with a boar and brings Lohengrin on stage for the first time.
The director really wanted a living swan for this scene.
And it was a film animal that came from a dirty agency 2 hours away from our city.
Every evening, during rehearsals, he sat alone in his cage, silent, and was exposed to very high intensity of sounds coming from the wind instruments that were positioned on the stage and not in the orchestra room in this production.
He looked at me with his keen eyes and trembled every time I tried to stroke him through the bars behind the stage.
The same torture every night, the unbearable noise that definitely tormented him because swans have very sensitive hearing, and then the strenuous journey of 2 hours to a dirty dark hole in the agency where he belonged.
We had received information that this agency was a small, unprofessional one with pigs, reptiles, birds, and lots of dogs.
The agency brokered these animals mainly for German television productions.
The management could not be convinced, a plan had to be found.
I have spoken to animal-friendly colleagues and have promised to help.
My plan was to stage an “accident”, that was the only way to put something in the veterinary office’s hand to ban the swan.
One night it was time.
We are all on stage, choir, soloists, the trombones, and the swan on a pedestal, he was not bound.
He was “trained” to stay where his slave owner wanted it.
With a sudden nudge, I pushed him cleverly towards to the orchestra room, the swan was startled and at that moment he flew over the orchestra, over the audience, he made a big bow in the auditorium and landed on the chandelier in the middle of the big hall.
The performance was interrupted, the maestro was waiting for instructions, what should happen now, with an animal flying freely over the heads of the spectators???
This was forbidden, according to security regulations.
The swan was caught again but everything went on without him.
For this evening and every evening, the swan was no longer with us.
The help of the colleagues came the next day: the telephone at the veterinary office did not remain silent, everyone wanted to report the “accident” and say that animals on the stage endanger safety.
That was the only way for us to reach the goal, the veterinary office saw otherwise no animal cruelty in this case.
The Veterinary Office has banned the swan from being used, and after this incident, the management has stopped bringing animals onto the stage. Until today.
Many have connected the action with my person, but this is not correct.
We have all tried to save the animal at least from this slave function, from this production.
We owed it to him.
I don’t know where our “Lohengrin” swan is today, whether he is still alive …
I often think of him and often see his dark, sad eyes in front of me.
We cannot save all animals when they need it.
But if ONE animal is suffering from our eyes, we have to try to save it.
Regards and good night, Venus