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

About the piece

The water nymph Rusalka, daughter of the Water Man, ignores all warnings when she decides to go and live in the world of men. Becoming human means losing, forever, her home and her element - water – reservoir of all voluntary liquidation. Her beloved prince is planning to marry her until an unknown princess arouses his fickle desire before the wedding. Rusalka can only return to her former world if she takes bloody revenge on him, but her refusal to do this is still not enough to save him. The remorseful Prince eventually finds her again but the kiss he begs her to give him kills him.
    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. This is the first time that this important Czech opera has 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, who was much younger than him. Kvapil was inspired by West European versions of old sagas about water nymphs and sprites, weaving them 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. The story is quickly told: the water nymph Rusalka falls in love with a human prince and sacrifices her voice in return for being transformed into human form. But everything quickly starts going wrong... The Prince turns his attentions to a foreign Princess, Rusalka flees but cannot return to her former existence. The Prince returns to her, full of remorse, but Rusalka's embrace can only bring him death. She is transformed into a will-o'-the-wisp. The tragic consequences of the human »civilised« world coming into contact with magical, idealised nature is the focus in the production. Director and stage designer Jim Lucassen made this beautifully clear by setting the work in a natural history museum. The world of nature and fairy tale becomes an exhibit. Rusalka becomes a projection screen for the Prince's dreams. In attempting to live this dream. both are doomed.

Friday 13.02.2015 19:00 h

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Christian Arming
Director and Stage Designer
Jim Lucassen
Costume Designer
Amélie Sator
Lighting Designer
Andreas Grüter
Ton Boorsma
Chorus Master
Tilman Michael

Olesya Golovneva
A.J. Glueckert
Fremde Fürstin
Claudia Mahnke
Andreas Bauer
Ježibaba, die Hexe
Katharina Magiera
Heger / Jäger
Sebastian Geyer
Maria Pantiukhova *

Oper Frankfurt's Orchestra and Chorus

* Member of the Opera Studio

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