Having fallen in love with a prince, the water sprite Rusalka longs to take human form. The price is high: Rusalka must forego the power of speech and runs the risk of eternal damnation if she cannot secure the love she seeks. Jaroslav Kvapil wrote the libretto in 1899 without suspecting who would provide the music. After three composers refused to adapt the material, Antonin Dvořak took up the challenge in 1900 and wrote »Rusalka« in a creative outpouring. This lyrical fairy tale came at a juncture between two musical eras. Previously, middle-class romantic longing had found its most beautiful expression in the art form of opera, whilst soon 20th century modernity and disillusionment would find no use for this trampled dream. Dvořak paints a clear picture of this death-obsessed and hopeless demise of the Romanticera. As in a psychological thriller, the water goblin and Rusalka traverse, once again, the heaven and hell of an impossible occidental dream – not in some distant time and place, but right here with us, in the middle of the city.
Lyric opera in three acts by Antonín Dvořák Performed in Czech with German surtitles
Running time 3 hours 30 minutes
Premiere 11 Dec 2010