Arizona Opera’s recent production prompts Carol Garrard to look beyond the fairy tale to historical events that likely inspired the composer and librettist. The Metropolitan’s production of Rusalka will be live in movie theaters on February 25.
In this age when opera directors feel free to impose their own “concept” on the work, it is delightful to see Joshua Borths’ sensitive staging of Rusalka penetrate to the core of this beautiful but puzzling opera. As we know, at the denouement, the Prince asks Rusalka for the kiss which will end his life. She gives it, knowing that the kiss condemns her to being one of the water beings who lure men to their death for eternity. However beautiful her last aria, the audience is left to wonder about a murder/suicide which brings down the curtain.
Borths set the opera in the last decade of the 19th century, in the Habsburg Empire. And when, in the second act, the Prince comes out, his costume gives us the key to solving the puzzle. [Read more…]