Rusalka at the Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna

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Rusalka

Antonín Dvořák

21. Feb. 2016

© Wiener Staatsoper GmbH

© Wiener Staatsoper GmbH

This opera – the composer’s second last work – was written around 1900. Musically it is related both to the Czech national school and in individual aspects to the musical drama of Richard Wagner.

Unlike the mischievous wood nymphs, the water nymph Rusalka does not tease the awakening water goblin, but confesses to him her desire to acquire a human form and a human soul in order to fulfil her love for a prince whom she has often observed by the lake. Although the water goblin warns Rusalka, he advises her to seek Ježibaba’s assistance. The latter appears and drives a hard bargain with the impassioned nymph: Rusalka will be able to adopt the human form, but will lose the power of speech. However, if she is nevertheless unable to win the prince’s unfailing love, only the death of her lover will enable her to return to the kingdom of nymphs.

© Wiener Staatsoper GmbH

© Wiener Staatsoper GmbH

Since Rusalka agrees, she is transformed into a human being, and is able to win the love of the prince when he appears by the lake. However, the planned wedding of the couple is prevented by a mysterious and seductive princess who unexpectedly appears on the scene, and whom the prince finds irresistibly attractive. When the prince makes a declaration of love to the princess and dismisses his planned wedding to Rusalka as a mere escapade, Rusalka makes one last desperate attempt to win him back, but is coldly rejected.

The water goblin puts a curse on the Prince before pulling Rusalka back into his underwater realm. A short time later, Ježibaba offers the lonely and lamenting Rusalka a means of returning to the kingdom of nymphs for ever. She hands Rusalka a dagger with which to murder her unfaithful lover. But Rusalka throws the dagger into the lake. Filled with remorse, the prince comes down to the lake: Rusalka appears to him as a will-o’-the-wisp. He begs her to free him of his guilt. Though Rusalka warns him that her embrace will cost him his life, he insists on a final kiss. He dies in her arms, and Rusalka sinks back into the lake.

Artistic team

  • Tomáš Netopil | Conductor
  • Sven-Eric Bechtolf | Director
  • Rolf Glittenberg |Stage Design
  • Marianne Glittenberg | Costumes
  • Jürgen Hoffmann | Lights
  • Lukas Gaudernak | Choreography

Cast

  • Klaus Florian Vogt | The Prince
  • Elena Zhidkova | The foreign Princess
  • Jongmin Park | The Water Goblin
  • Camilla Nylund | Rusalka
  • Monika Bohinec | Jezibaba

The critics say:

…Rusalka is played by soprano Camilla Nylund, with an expressive, warm, yet soft and agile  voice making it almost real with her naturalnesssprezzante in the sovracuti of which the role is rich. Since the first aria, Song to the Moon, the public had realized that she would be a personification of Rusalka, being free in the stage movements and with penetrating eyes and a bewitching voice, very elegant, never ungainly, with beautiful mezza voce yarns, always ready to respond to the virtuosity of Dvořák‘s orchestral music…

Salvatore Margarone & Federico Scatamburlo, OperaAmorMio

SYNOPSIS

Unlike the mischievous wood nymphs, the water nymph Rusalka does not tease the awakening water goblin, but confesses to him her desire to acquire a human form and a human soul in order to fulfil her love for a prince whom she has often observed by the lake. Although the water goblin warns Rusalka, he advises her to seek Ježibaba’s assistance. The latter appears and drives a hard bargain with the impassioned nymph: Rusalka will be able to adopt the human form, but will lose the power of speech. However, if she is nevertheless unable to win the prince’s unfailing love, only the death of her lover will enable her to return to the kingdom of nymphs.

Photo by Salvatore Margarone

Photo by Salvatore Margarone

Since Rusalka agrees, she is transformed into a human being, and is able to win the love of the prince when he appears by the lake. However, the planned wedding of the couple is prevented by a mysterious and seductive princess who unexpectedly appears on the scene, and whom the prince finds irresistibly attractive. When the prince makes a declaration of love to the princess and dismisses his planned wedding to Rusalka as a mere escapade, Rusalka makes one last desperate attempt to win him back, but is coldly rejected.

The water goblin puts a curse on the Prince before pulling Rusalka back into his underwater realm. A short time later, Ježibaba offers the lonely and lamenting Rusalka a means of returning to the kingdom of nymphs for ever. She hands Rusalka a dagger with which to murder her unfaithful lover. But Rusalka throws the dagger into the lake. Filled with remorse, the prince comes down to the lake: Rusalka appears to him as a will-o’-the-wisp. He begs her to free him of his guilt. Though Rusalka warns him that her embrace will cost him his life, he insists on a final kiss. He dies in her arms, and Rusalka sinks back into the lake.

GALLERY

Photos by Salvatore Margarone, Federico Scatamburlo, Wiener Staatsoper

 

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