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Opera

Rusalka

Approximate running time

RUSALKA, A SUPERB PRODUCTION

 

As one of the most successful Czech operas, Rusalka was created by the genius mind of Antonin Dvorak. The Czech libretto, developed by poet Jaroslav Kvapil, is derived from the fairy tales of Karel Jaromir Erben and Bozena Nemcova. The Opera represents the keystone of the Czech opera houses portfolio.

 

A Rusalk is a water-dwelling sprite that originates from Slavic mythology. Surprisingly this opera was not a major segment of Dvorak's international reputation. Only in recent years has the opera been performed by major companies.

THE HISTORY

Described as a "sad, modern fairy tale," this Opera retains elements from The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen) and Undine (Frederich dabe la Motte Fouque). Although the libretto was completed in 1899, Kvapil went searching for composers interested in this opera. His composer friends sent him to see Dvorak who read the libretto and composed the opera quickly.

Act 1: A MEADOW BY THE EDGE OF A LAKE

In a nearby lake, three wood-sprites tease the Water Goblin who rules the lake. A water sprite and the daughter of the Water Goblin, Rusalka, notifies her father that she has fallen deeply in love with a human Prince. He sends her to Jezibaba, a witch, for guidance. Jezibaba informs her that if she becomes human by drinking the potion; she will lose all powers of speech. If rejected by the human Prince, she will be damned to the bottom of the lake forever. She agrees and then drinks the potion to become human. The Prince finds her and leads her away.

Act 2 - THE GARDEN OF THE PRINCE'S CASTLE

The Gamekeeper and Kitchen Boy suspect witchcraft when they catch wind that the Prince will be marrying a nameless bridge. The Prince is lavishing attention from a Foreign Princess who is a guest. The Foreign Princess curses the newlyweds because of extreme jealously. As a result, he rejects his bride who returns back to the pond while the Foreign Princess wins over the Prince.

Act 3 - A MEADOW BY THE EDGE OF A LAKE

She calls on Jezibaba to find a solution and tells her that she can save herself from damnation if she kills the Prince with a magic dagger. Given her feelings for the Prince, Rusalka rejects the offer and disposes of the knife in the lake. She then turns into a bludicka (spirit of death who lures humans into the lake to their deaths). The Gamekeeper and Kitchen Boy contact the Water Goblin who tells them that the Prince has betrayed his daughter. The Prince comes to the lake and the two passionately kiss, bringing him to his death. She thanks the Prince for allowing her to experience human emotion, extols his soul to God and returns to the bottom of the lake.

MAIN ROLES

Rusalka, a water nymph, soprano
The Prince, a betrayer, tenor
Vodnik, the water goblin, bass
Jezibaba, a witch, mezzo-soprano
Turnspit, the Kitchen Boy, soprano
The Gamekeeper, tenor

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