Music: Karin Rehnqvist
Libretto: Kerstin Perski
World premiere at the Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm, on November 19, 2022.
Drifted was commissioned by the Royal Swedish Opera.

Maria has survived something overwhelming. But she doesn’t remember what. Is she a refugee without papers? Did she commit some horrible crime? 
Drifted is a ritual opera about travelling through grief back to life when all that gave life meaning is gone.


Somewhere in the world, Maria is playing with her daughter Sara when everything goes dark and Sara disappears. In the next moment, Maria’s shadow self, “the Other,” sets events in motion. Maria finds herself on a beach filled with bathers on holiday.

An insurance salesman named Peter P. realizes that Maria is a survivor of the great disaster on the other side of the ocean. Maria has no memory of the event. Peter P. tries to fend off the gawking holidaymakers, and the kindly Mrs Lind takes Maria home to rest. But once she arrives, Maria realizes that Mrs Lind wants Maria to fill the empty space left behind by Mrs Lind’s own missing daughter. Maria flees.

“The Other” urges Maria to remember those whom she has failed. Instead, Maria searches out Peter P. so that he can help her look for Sara. Pressed by “the Other,” suddenly Maria remembers the truth: Sara disappeared when the volcano erupted after Maria let go of her hand.

Peter P. tries to comfort Maria, but “the Other” confronts her with the memory of her dead husband. Maria, overwhelmed by the great love she has lost, finds herself driven onward and outward into solitude.


Maria tries to persuade herself that her husband and daughter are still alive, but “the Other” and her retinue drive Maria forward into the heart of her grief. The memory of the erupting volcano replays before her eyes, and she relived the moment when she sent her husband to find Sara instead of going to search for Sara herself. Peter P., Mrs Lind, and a Choir of the Dead join “the Other” to stage a trial in which they unanimously find Maria guilty.

Overwhelmed by guilt, Maria prepares to take her own life but pulls back at the memory of her child, her husband, and their unconditional love. Filled with new courage, Maria bids a final farewell to her family. Furious that Maria is becoming reconciled to her loss, “the Other” tries to destroy Maria’s will to live. In a climactic struggle, Maria succeeds in overpowering the destructive force of “the Other,” and both she and “the Other” make peace with their grief.

Maria’s newfound strength spreads to all those who have sat in judgment on her and together they are able to take their leave of everything they have lost.

Photos: Sören Vilks/Royal Swedish Opera

Vivianne Holmberg
Lena Willemark
Carl Ackerfeldt
Katarina Leoson
Elvira Kåhlin
Benthe Börjesson Liebert
Johan Edholm
Cathrine Winnes

Royal Swedish Orchestra
Royal Swedish Opera Chorus

Natalie Ringler
Katarina Aronsson
Anna Heymowska
Moa Möller
Tobias Hagström Ståhl
Roger Lybeck

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