OGSA’s president Carol Garrard gives the story of Dvořák’s dark fairy-tale opera, which we are previewing on November 9 and 11, 2016.
If you took your children or grandchildren to Walt Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and are hoping to replicate that experience with more elegant singing—well, Rusalka is not the opera for you.
The ninth of Antonín Dvořák’s ten operas, it alone has entered the repertoire. It contains one of opera’s greatest hits, Rusalka’s beautiful Act I “Song to the Moon,” with its haunting glissando string motif. There is a great deal of other beautiful music in this fairy tale made into opera, but its ending of doom for both the eponymous heroine and her lover is dark indeed.
Rusalka is based on Czech and German folk tales that have often ‘surfaced’ in literature, opera and ballet. A notable example is the novella Undine, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. (See the illustration at right by J.W. Waterhouse.) In Fouqué’s story the water nymph gets her legs, and she gets her man too. Yes, he betrays her, but they are reunited in love, and as the curtain goes down, they die in each other’s arms.
Rusalka has an altogether more troubling denouement. [Read more…]