Tag: Hawlata

Dvořak – Rusalka / Opéra National de Paris 2002 (3)

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Musically there is nothing here to complain about. Renée Fleming has (duh) a beautiful voice. In general, I am not always gripped by her style of acting. Not that it would make sense in this opera if she did, but she never seems to go for ’emotionally raw’ – the effect is always elegant and glossy and often very intense, but never in a “would you like to see the bleeding edges of this character’s soul now?” kind of way. But regardless of dramatic approach this is extremely high quality singing. Rusalka’s song to the moon (or in this case, song to the reflection of a bedside lamp) is stretched out as much as it can plausibly stretch, especially towards the end. Rusalka’s longing and sadness are beautifully done, both in that particular section and elsewhere in the opera; I could listen to Fleming sing this material for a pretty long time before I got sick of it.

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Dvořak – Rusalka / Opéra National de Paris 2002 (2)

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Rusalka-2 Robert Carsen’s production contains a lot of doubling. The first thing we see is a room lit in blue. Or rather two rooms, or a room and its mirror image. It is a spacious but anonymous looking bedroom, with a bed, two lit lamps and two chairs next to the doors on either end. The room is reflected as if instead of a floor, there was a mirror – or as if there was water there. The action in the first act takes place in the ‘inverted’ room below. What would be the moldings linking the walls to the ceiling here curve into the floor; it looks like we are at the bottom of a swimming pool. In the center there is a square opening filled with water.

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Dvořak – Rusalka / Opéra National de Paris 2002 (1)

Dvořak’s opera Rusalka is roughly the same story as “The Little Mermaid.” Rusalka is a water nymph who has fallen in love with a human prince. Her father warns her that this will be nothing but trouble, but Rusalka does not listen. She goes to the witch Ježibaba, who is willing to turn her into a human woman, for a price – her voice and her magic water nymph’s veil. She warns Rusalka that if she fails to win the prince’s heart, they will both be damned.*

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Die Entführung aus dem Serail / Schäfer, Hartelius et al. / Salzburg 1997 (3)

[previous section here.]

So. About the music. There are some good performances here. I already mentioned Christine Schäfer, who despite having to scamper all over the stage during “Martern aller Arten” for example, sounded consistently very nice. (She also sings the role of Konstanze on this recording, which has the added bonus of being just a CD, so there is no barbed wire unless you want to imagine it yourself.)

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