Antonin Dvorak 1841 – 1904
Lyric Fairy Tale in three acts
Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil based on: Udine, by Friedrich de la Motte Fougué, The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and Die Versunkene Glocke/The Sunken Bell by Gerhart Hauptmann
World premiere: March 31st 1901, National Theatre, Prague
A production from the Opéra national de Lorraine
Sung in Czech with German surtitles
Duration: c. 3 1/2 hrs. with two intervals
13.02.2015 |15.02.2015 |21.02.2015 |27.02.2015
Director and Stage Designer
Revival rehearsed by
Ježibaba, die Hexe
Heger / Jäger
Maria Pantiukhova *
Oper Frankfurt’s Orchestra and Chorus
* Member of the Opera Studio
About the piece
Director and Stage Designer Jim Lucassen set Dvořák’s fairy tale opera in a national history museum, a paradigmatic space where di …
Director and Stage Designer Jim Lucassen set Dvořák’s fairy tale opera in a national history museum, a paradigmatic space where different worlds and times converge. Rusalka’s home, an inanimate exhibit during the day, comes to life at night. When the water nymph enters the hostile civilisation at the Prince’s court she finds that only a withered skeleton of nature has survived. Lucassen’s clear and sensitive production was highly praised when it was first performed in Nancy in 2010 and revived in Montpellier in 2011.
The first performances of this production, in September 2013, were the first time that this important Czech opera had been performed in Frankfurt for 24 years. Although Antonìn Dvořák wrote 10 operas the only one that enjoyed lasting success was Rusalka. One of the reasons was that this time he had a really first class libretto to work on, written by the author Jaroslav Kvapil. Kvapil wove European versions of old sagas about water nymphs and sprites into the Slavonic myth of the Rusalki and the Water Sprite, a well known figure in Czechoslovakia. Dvořák made hardly any changes to the libretto when setting it to music. His love of nature, in which he imersed himself whenever possible at his holiday home in the countryside outside Prague, is evident throughout the score.
Rusalka, a water nymph, daughter of the Water Man, falls in love with a prince. Her father warns her about the human world but s …
Rusalka, a water nymph, daughter of the Water Man, falls in love with a prince. Her father warns her about the human world but she is so determined that he refers her to Jezibaba, a witch. Jezibaba mocks Rusalka and points out the consequences her decision will have: if she loses the Prince’s love she will be doomed for eternity, and so will he. Jezibaba gives her human legs but makes it impossible for her to speak in human company.
The Prince meets Rusalka, falls in love. Preparations are put in motion for their wedding. His subjects are suspicious of his strange intended bride. The Prince reproaches Rusalka for her lack of passion. He then proves easy prey for a warm blooded, flirty foreign Princess. Rusalka tries to win him back, but he rejects her. Hopeless and dejected, Rusalka returns to her place of origin. Jezibaba tells her that the only way she can regain her former existence is if she kills the Prince. She, of course, cannot bring herself to do this and so is fated to wander, forever, between the worlds as a will-o’-the-wisp. The Prince, full of remorse, eventually finds her again but the kiss she begs her to give him kills him. Rusalka asks God to take pity on his soul.