In France's Hundred Years' War against England, the French find themselves in a tight spot: Paris has fallen, Orléans is besieged, and the legitimate heir to the throne, Charles VII, is frozen in inaction. In this hopeless situation, the peasant's daughter Joan proclaims that God has charged her with liberating Orléans from occupation. A vow of chastity certifies Joan's divine mission before her compatriots, whose fighting courage is rekindled by the young woman's determination. Under the leadership of the "Maid of Orleans", the decisive victory is achieved. But while Joan is revered as a chaste warrior, she has long since ceased to be one: she has lost her heart to the enemy fighter Lionel. Meanwhile, Johanna's own father is calling for his daughter's overthrow.
Who is Joan of Arc, the legendary Maid of Orleans? A warrior of God who, on behalf of heavenly powers, leads the French army victoriously into the field against the English occupiers? Or a young woman who, with courage, dares to break the narrow confines of her status and gender and, in her encounter with war and love, radically writes peace on her banner, while the political powers continue to measure their power by victory and defeat?
Based on Friedrich Schiller's tragedy "Joan of Arc", Peter I. Tchaikovsky created an effective Grand Opéra in 1881. But the assassination of Tsar Alexander II only two weeks after the premiere on 25 February 1881 in St. Petersburg initially prevented the work from being distributed. To this day, the opera is a sonorous solitaire on European opera stages. After "Christmas Oratorio - Scenes from a Sleepless Night", director Elisabeth Stöppler is staging it again at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein.