The rose elf

Words and music by David Hertzberg, based on the fairy tale "The Elf of the Rose" by Hans Christian Andersen • Jan. 22, 25, 28, 30, 2022

A carefree Elf witnesses a despicable crime. Forever changed, the Elf resolves to give closure to the victim’s Beloved.

Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Rose Elf takes you to a world where a tiny elf lives happily and contently in the protective petals of a beautiful rose. When the flower closes one night before the Elf returns home, the Elf seeks shelter in some nearby honeysuckle. 

There, the Elf overhears the Girl and her Beloved exchange tender goodbyes, as the Beloved prepares for a lengthy journey. After the Beloved embarks, the Elf watches in horror as the Brother brutally murders the Beloved and buries him beneath a linden tree.
The Elf whispers the truth to the Girl while she sleeps, leaving her a leaf from the linden tree to convince her that their message was not a dream. When she awakens, the Girl pursues the terrible truth, even though it could destroy her.

Join us for the Pittsburgh premiere of David Hertzberg’s hauntingly beautiful opera The Rose Elf. The New Yorker says its music “blooms with warmth and depth”, and OperaWire praises Hertzberg as “masterful at using a minimal number of instrumentalists to create gargantuan sound.”

Developed through Opera Philadelphia’s Double Exposure program in 2016 and 2018, The Rose Elf premiered on June 6, 2018 in the catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, in a production by R.B. Schlather. These will be its second-ever performances.


The Rose Elf is sponsored in part by a gift from an anonymous donor.

Cast and Artistic Team

Details and Resources


Video Clips