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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: Rusalka

Kristine Opolais in the title role and Jamie Barton as Ježibaba in Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.
Courtesy of Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera
Kristine Opolais in the title role and Jamie Barton as Ježibaba in Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.

Airs Sunday, July 9, 2017 at Noon on KPBS TV

Met’s New Production of Dvořák’s Haunting Fairy Tale Stars Kristine Opolais

Kristine Opolais stars in her first Met performances of her breakthrough role, the title character in Antonin Dvořák’s “Rusalka,” in a critically acclaimed new staging, directed by Mary Zimmerman and conducted by Mark Elder, on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET on PBS.

S44 Ep21: GP at The Met: Rusalka Preview

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"Kristine Opolais stars in her first Met performance as the title character in Antonin Dvořák's Rusalka. The critically acclaimed new staging

This haunting love story also stars Jamie Barton as the witch Ježibaba, with Katarina Dalayman as the Foreign Princess, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Eric Owens as Rusalka’s father, the Water Sprite.

Katarina Dalayman as the Foreign Princess, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.
Courtesy of Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera
Katarina Dalayman as the Foreign Princess, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.

The opera premiered at the National Theater in Prague in 1901. The only one of Dvořák’s operas to gain an international following (so far), “Rusalka” is in many ways a definitive example of late Romanticism — containing folklore, evocations of the natural and the supernatural worlds, and even a poignant interpretation of the idea of a love-death.

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Eric Owens as the Water Sprite and Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.
Courtesy of Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera
Eric Owens as the Water Sprite and Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvorák’s fairy-tale opera.

The story has a strong national flavor as well as universal appeal, infused by the Romantic supernaturalism of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s novella “Undine” (previously set as an opera by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Tchaikovsky, and others) and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) was celebrated internationally during his lifetime for his chamber, choral, and symphonic music, while his nine operas found little renown beyond his native Bohemia.

He was especially popular in London and in New York, where he served for a while as director of the short-lived National Conservatory of Music. Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950) was a Czech author and poet who had written the libretto for "Rusalka" before Dvořák became interested in it.

The opera takes place in an unspecified fairy-tale setting. Contrasting unspoiled and “honest” nature (the woods and lake of the framing acts) with corrupt human culture (the Prince’s palace in Act II) was a favorite theme of Romantic artists.

Tenor Matthew Polenzani hosts the broadcast.

REVIEWS:

The New York Times proclaimed it “a dark, sexy hit” and noted the “matchless cast led by the lovely soprano Kristine Opolais, who gives a vocally lustrous and achingly vulnerable performance,” adding that “Mark Elder conducted a glowing account.”

The Wall Street Journal acclaimed the “handsome new production” and found it “a luminous performance.”

The Huffington Post noted Brandon Jovanovich’s “strong voice” and “commanding presence” and declared, “Eric Owens delivers another powerful performance.”

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CREDITS:

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Production: Mary Zimmerman. Set Designer: Daniel Ostling. Costume Designer: Mara Blumenfeld. Lighting Designer: T. J. Gerckens. Choreographer: Austin McCormick. Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. David Frost is music producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are supervising producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are producers. Peter Gelb is executive producer.