Antonín Dvořák

Rusalka

23 July - 27 August 2011
Glyndebourne Festival 2011

Dvořák's quintessentially Bohemian take on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid is not only his finest and most enduringly popular opera but arguably one of the most deeply moving operas of all.

A water nymph's desperate longing to experience true love plunges her into the emotional maelstrom of life at a handsome Prince's court.  Emerging with a profounder understanding of the unspeakable pain, as well as the fleeting joys, of human existence, she nevertheless finds it within herself to forgive her betrayer, even at the cost of her own immortal soul.

Acclaimed at its Festival debut in 2009, Melly Still's staging magically captures both the work's romantic and comic aspects, while also relishing the raw grotesquery and even savagery of its folk-tale world.  To conduct its first revival, we welcome back Sir Andrew Davis, Glyndebourne's Music Director from 1989 to 2000.

Also making welcome returns as Rusalka and the Prince are the young Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova (who made her Festival debut in 2009 as Alice in Falstaff) and the Czech tenor Pavel Černoch (who made his Tour debut in 2009 as Števa in Jenůfa). The distinguished Russian mezzo Larissa Diadkova and bass Mischa Schelomianski reprise the roles of Ježibaba and Vodnik.  

A revival of the 2009 Festival production.
Sung in Czech with English supertitles.

Listen to the Rusalka podcast (15 mins)

Conductor Sir Andrew Davis and Director Melly Still talk to James Whitbourn about Dvořák's Rusalka.  

This revival is generously supported by:
The Donald Albert Anderson Charitable Trust
Paul Cartledge and Judith Portrait
André and Rosalie Hoffmann
In loving memory of Maria and Marina
And 3 anonymous supporters

Performed by arrangement with Dilia, Prague and Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd

Note: The characters are referred to by generic terms from Slavic mythology: ‘Rusalka’ means water nymph and ‘Vodnik’ water sprite, while ‘Ježibaba’ is a standard name for a witch.

Setting: A lake in a forest; a castle

Act I

As wood nymphs dance by the lake, the moonlight wakens the water sprite, who tries to lure one of them into the depths. They mock him and run away.

His daughter Rusalka, sick at heart, tells him of her yearning to become human. He is shocked to learn that she loves a human being – a prince who comes to bathe in the lake. Her father tells her she must consult the witch, Ježibaba warning her that she will be doomed if claimed by a man.

Rusalka appeals to the moon to tell her lover she is waiting for him. She wakes Ježibaba and asks her to give her a human soul.

Ježibaba informs her that the ability to speak to humans will be denied her. If she fails to win love, she will be forever accursed; if he rejects her, her lover, too, will be eternally damned. Confident of her love, Rusalka agrees.

Hunters approach, among them the Prince, seeking Rusalka. He sends the others away, and sees Rusalka standing silently before him. Unable to answer him, she throws herself into his arms. He leads her away as the other water nymphs lament her leaving.

Short interval of 20 minutes

Act II

At the Prince’s castle, the Gamekeeper and Kitchen Girl discuss events. The Prince has brought a silent female back with him from the woods, and seems likely to marry her; the Gamekeeper hopes that they will be delivered from such sinister magic. Yet there is hope: the Prince is increasingly attracted to the Foreign Princess.

The servants disappear as the Prince enters with Rusalka. Though he is still drawn to her, he complains that she is devoid of passion. Watching them as she enters, the Foreign Princess vows to separate them. She asks why the Prince’s bride-to-be is so silent. As the Prince recalls his duties as a host and leaves with the Princess, he tells Rusalka to dress as befits the wedding ball.

As the ball begins, Rusalka looks on broken-hearted while the Prince dances with the Princess. Her father arrives to warn her that death awaits her back at the lake; she will return eternally damned. As the Prince embraces the Princess, Rusalka acknowledges that he has betrayed her. Rusalka suddenly throws herself into the Prince’s arms, but he rejects her. As Rusalka’s father drags her away, the Prince falls stupefied. The Foreign Princess laughs.

Dinner interval of approximately 85 minutes

Act III

A moonlit night at the lake, where Rusalka sits sadly. Deserted by the Prince and banished by her companions, she longs for death. Ježibaba mocks her, relenting only so far as to tell her that if she kills the Prince herself, she can return to her former state. She gives Rusalka a knife, which the latter throws into the lake.

The Gamekeeper and Kitchen Girl arrive at the witch’s cottage, seeking a cure for the Prince’s illness, caused by the sorceress Rusalka. The witch sends them packing and Rusalka’s father angrily chases them away.

The dryads return to dance until Rusalka’s father’s tale of his daughter’s undoing causes them to flee.

The Prince enters, once more seeking Rusalka. She appears, warning him that now she can mean only death to him. The Prince asks her to kiss him, to bring him peace. Rusalka finally agrees. He dies. She asks for God’s mercy on his soul and sinks back into the lake.

Words: George Hall

Creative team

Conductor Andrew Davis 
Director Melly Still
Designer Rae Smith
Lighting designer Paule Constable
Movement director Rick Nodine

Cast includes

Rusalka Dina Kuznetsova
Prince Pavel Cernoch
Foreign Princess Tatiana Pavlovskaya
Vodnik Mischa Schelomianski
Ježibaba Larissa Diadkova
1st nymph Anja-Nina Bahrmann
2nd nymph Victoria Yarovaya
3rd nymph Alisa Kolosova
Kitchen Girl Elizabeth Deshong
Gamekeeper Alasdair Elliott

London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Audio files: 
2011 Festival production
Anja-Nina Bahrmann, Victoria Yarovaya and Alisa Kolosova as the three nymphs in the 2011 production. Photo: Alastair Muir
The nymphs in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Pavel Cernoch as the Prince and Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka with the Glyndebourne Chorus in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Tatiana Pavlovskaya as the Foreign Princess, Pavel Cernoch as the Prince and Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince with Glyndebourne Chorus in the 2011 production. Photo: Alastair Muir
Tatiana Pavlovskaya as the Foreign Princess and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince in the 2011 production. Photo: Alastair Muir
Tatiana Pavlovskaya as the Foreign Princess, Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir
Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince in the 2011 production of Rusalka. Photo: Alastair Muir

Comments

This was a truly marvellous evening of opera with the most creative staging I have had the pleasure of seeing for a very long time. Thank you. May I mention the surtitles which were not as distinct as they usually are, even with glasses on!

It was anoutstanding performance from every aspect and was one of our best Glyndebourne evenings.

Thoroughly enjoyed the fabulous production, particularly the mermaids swimming around. Only one little niggle - the surtitles were not easy to read from the back of the auditorium. Could they be made a little larger?

It's all be said in the wonderful comments above - the orchestra, singers, staging, all first class and a truly breathtaking, magical evening. Pure pleasure. Thank you so much Glyndebourne, my faith is fully restored after the rather odd Rinaldo earlier in the season!

The last performance on Saturday was quite wonderful and I was much more captivated with this performance than two years ago. Musically perfect and the last scene was superb and very emotional. A great farewell to 2011.

A truly wonderful evening full of high drama, passion and sublime music. The stage setting was amazing and the singing incredible. The whole performace was outstanding but the final scene was particularly moving and the orchestra was incredible. We left Glyndebourne feeling so happy that we had witnessed such a fantastic performance

We saw it two years ago and thought it was even better second time around. What a wonderful evening; singing, production orchestral playing and conducting all added to our pleasure. look forward to seeing it again.

For the first time I bought standing tickets to see Russalka and was naturally worried that the 15 year olds and eighteen year olds in our party might find it all a bit too much. The production was so magical and the singing so fantastic that not once did I hear a moan about tired legs. The orchestral playing was wonderful and both my husband and I were moved to tears in the final scene. We also had an eighty year old in our party and we all loved the whole thing, even the freezing cold picnnic!

Our first Glyndebourne visit for our 45th wedding anniversary and a beautiful way to celebrate. I used to have the Fair Moon aria on an EP (remember those?) and played it incessantly. But your production was superb. We especially enjoyed the arial nymphs and the magical staging! Thank you so much Glyndebourne!

I was captivated by all aspects of the 2009 production of this wonderful opera, especially the superb singing of Ana María Martínez, so had high expectations of this year's revival.
I thought the singing of the principals was entirely up to Glyndebourne's usual impeccably high standards, but confess to not being convinced by the sexual innuendos in this production.
I also thought that Jiri Belohlavek was the definitive Czech conductor for this opera.
But I'm getting older, and my experience has often been that I favour the first performance I hear of a work, so these comments are not meant as a criticism of another unforgettable Glyndebourne opera - and I've been coming for 40 years.

This was Glyndebourne at its best. Bringing my daughter for her first fine summer's evening performance and appreciating it through her eyes she commented on the way in which we we drawn in by the performers and felt we were integral to the performance rather than on the perifery. Totally absorbing;Wonderful.

Having loved this very special production two years ago, we took the risk of a return visit on Sunday and had another wonderful afternoon/evening. We missed Vodnik's portrayal as a toad previously which had rather added to the mystery of Rusalka's procreation but were intrigued to see him appear as a figure who had stepped out of a Lucien Freud painting. It is wonderful to see that first-timers have enjoyed this production and this would be a lovely way to introduce a child to opera. I have only two tiny gripes. Rusalka sang very softly at some points in the first act and was drowned out by the orchestra so we lost some of her words. Also, why oh why did Glyndebourne make only a CD of the production and not a DVD? Finally, we especially enjoyed the pre-performance talk which gave us new insights to enhance our enjoyment of the evening - including the fact that Iolanthe, my second favourite G&S operetta, shares the same provenance as Rusalka!

I have been a member for nearly 40 years now and we and our guests agreed this was the most thrilling evening ever. Also the garden changes are brilliant.

We loved every moment of "Rusalka". We saw it (was it two?) years ago and enjoyed it then. However, this performance was even better. The singing and acting was absolutely superb and the orchestra excelled under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. One was emotionally completely caught up in the plot and taken to new heights. What a splendid season it has been this year.
Thanks to everyone who makes Glyndebourne such a memorable experience year in, year out!

One of the most memorable of many Glyndebourne experiences. A superb production.The London Philharmonic were on top form -thanks Andrew Davis. The characterisation of Rusalka herself and the prince were unforgetable. The smaller parts of the princess, Rusalka's father and the witch were superb. Congratulations to the entite team. We took as guests the Portuguese about to be in laws of our youngest son. They were enchanted. The Czech voices & English sur-titles were incomprehensible to them but the production was so perfect that they understood every statement, inference and emotion. The best tetstament possible for this brilliant ocassion. Many thanks

My wife and I did see the 2009 production - in fact on the evening when Martinez had the misfortune to fall into the orchestral pit. We've also seen Rusalka in Europe, I think at Bratislava, in a production I think Dvorak would hardly have recognized.
It's invidious to compare your two productions; but much as we enjoyed 2009, I have little doubt that this year was even better in most aspects. Congratulations for maintaining such high standards.

One of the most enthralling operas that I have ever seen. I will never forget those truly wonderful voices, from the main characters to the chorus. Sublime. The scenes, particularly with the astonishing water nymphs, were unforgettable too. Thank you to all concerned, especially the army behind the scenes,for a life enhancing experience - and don't we need it these days!. Thank you.

Great production and orchestral interpretation. Even better than two years ago. A wonderful magic tale and one of our favourite production and music. Thank you!

This was an utterly wonderful evening. We were transported by the production, especially the lighting but also the costumes, singers and orchestra under Davis's hands rather than baton. Splendid!

A wonderful evening. The dramatic and emotional power were overwhelming, surpassing 2009. One of the best performances I've seen in over 30 years.
DM

What happened to Vodnik's warty fatsuite?

This was a wonderful evening and a total surprise as we knew little about Rusalka before the evening. The singing, playing,acting/dancing and staging were outstanding, and made for a very moving performance.

wow what an evening great singing and a magical performance by the orchestra this opera has everything . well done would love to see this again

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending Glyndebourne for the first time this evening and seeing my first Opera. The entire experience was magical and moving.
The staging and costumery were magnificent. During the final scene between Rusalka and the Prince, well let's just say I wasn't the only attendee moved to tears.
Bravo!

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending Glyndebourne for the first time this evening and seeing my first Opera. The entire experience was magical and moving.
The staging and costumery were magnificent. During the final scene between Rusalka and the Prince, well let's just say I wasn't the only attendee moved to tears.
Bravo!

Rusalka is certainly my favourite opera - I have seen it 12 times at Prague State Opera in the last 5 years. Although Prague has terrific visual effects it does not compare in any way with the Glyndebourne performances.
The superb production there, with first class singers and wonderful orchestra orchestra is miles ahead of the one in Prague.
Everything just "magical",a great evening, a theatical feast!
Terrific performances from the 4 singers 'reprising' their roles from 2 years ago.
I reserve my "gold star" awards for the stunning performances by Dina Kuznetsova as Rusalka and Pavel Cernoch as the Prince. His was the best "Prince"I have seen and heard anywhere!
I was fortunate to be able to see it on 9th & 12th of August and can't wait to see it again on 27th August. Yes I loved it!
Peter Hall

An absolutely magical evening! Everything - orchestral playing, singing, acting, stage settings, production - out of the top drawer. We saw it two years ago (at Glyndebourne) and were as entranced this time as we were then.

Would agree with all the positive comments on the 6 august performance and would also stress the need for larger surtitles. Shame so many now don't read the dress code before attending!

Performance on 3rd. August.
This production shot into the top 10 of all performances seen at Glyndebourne over the last 25 years or so.
Totally magical, captivating and with very imaginative staging. The singing was superb and we were particularly impressed with tenor Pavel Cernoch who has a beautifully unforced voice.
Excellent playing from the LPO.
A wonderful evening.

We saw the 6 August performance: almost every aspect was new and exciting (to us): the stage setting with minimal means producing now a scene under the water, now one at the beach, now one in a wood; the 'staging' of the people on the stage i.e. How they moved in correlation to the singing as well as to the story being told that is one of the outstanding characteristics we have enjoyed every time; it is not 'just an opera where singers move on stage' it is a theatre performance with ( outstanding) singing. Add to that the world class performance of the orchestra, and of course that of the singers!
The acoustics were - as allways - so good that one can sit almost everywhere and still have the full depth of the music coming from the pit.
Thank you for another event which gave us much pleasure!

I still have vivid memories of the 2009 production and this revival with some cast changes was equally memorable and wonderful. Everyone's singing was impressive and even the smaller roles were sung with great conviction.

Sitting in Row B of the stalls we were very closé to the action, which was entralling throughout. No weaknesses, genuinly moving and utterly compelling.

Congratulations!

Brian Stevenson

This was a magical performance of an enchanting and under performed opera. Quite honestly I couldn't fault it. The staging and movement was brilliant. Andrew Davies and the orchestra were superb. Thank you

We went last week and enjoyed it thoroughly, as others have commented it was magical, and the production I thought brought this really to the fore. The singing was excellent, particularly Rusalka herself but also the Princess. We also loved the sense of fun throughout the production and some of the raunchy acting.

I invited my stepson and his wife and my sister to see Rusalka on the 4th August. They were all spellbound and loved every minute of it. The production was perfection and I am afraid they have been spoilt for anything else!

NO, I cannot agree with all the positive comments I have read so far.This was a pale revival of what we saw and heard two years ago. Ms Martinez and the conductor Belolavek were much missed!

The performance of Rusalka on August 6th was the best we've attended at Glyndebourne. Music, performances and set were stunning.

Truly magical evening and such creative sets. Wonderful performances from all the singers and the orchestra, conducted so brilliantly by Andrew Davis.

An awe inspiring evening, magical! This was the most innovative stage production I have ever seen, thank you!

What a truly special evening.! We were lucky enough to go to the first night and as it was the first time that we had heard this opera we did not know what to expect.
We were all spellbound with the excellent production, the soloists were superb, the music simply beautiful and the stage production and costumes were outstanding.
Thank you so much for a fantastic evening.

Absolutely fantastic, superb production!

We greatly enjoyed the performance of Rusalka. While the interpretationof the opera had clearly been brought up to date, Dvorak's intentions had been maintained and, for once, there were no silly gimmicks (a la Rinaldo!) to confuse the wonderful music and singing. I hate to single out any individual performances, they were all so good, but we did particularly enjoy Vodnik's performance.

No need to sell your grandmother to be at Glyndebourne in the summer! I have seen Rusalka twice with standing tickets totalling £25 and only wish I had the opportunity to see it a third time. It was even more wonderful the second time.

Went on the opening night (23rd July): we had never heard a live performance of Rusalka before, but this was an unforgettable experience, as near-perfect as one could possibly hope for. Orchestra, conducting & singing were flawless.

We weren't lucky enough to hear Ana Maria Martinez in 2009 (see anon comment, 3rd August), but cannot imagine a better characterization than Kuznetsova's. Have just managed to sell my grandmother to fund more tickets for the performance on 27th August, and we're auctioning one of our daughters on eBay in the hope that more returns become available...

I enjoyed this performance of "Rusalka" so much that I immediately contacted a friend to say - Phone for a returned ticket! What a night of magic! wonderful music,singing and stage effects.The lighting was fantastic, and the mermaids alluring.I would sum it up as ;-funny,sad,romantic,naughty,and a total success.The thunderous applause at the final curtain confirms it.
2 Dutch(?) gentlemen beside me were equally enchanted.
Anonymous

Saturday 30 July
Enchanting choreography and wonderful singing but why the costumes for Rusalka?

Just wonderful!

I saw the original production, as well as this revival on the 27th July. It is a marvellous opera, and I am glad that it is now getting a proper appreciation, and this is a beautiful and magical production. So if you have never seen this opera before, sell your grandmother if necessary, and just go see it. I enjoyed this revival just as much as the 2009 production, and Kuznetsova sings beautifully.

It is always unfair to compare interpretations, so I apologise for this, but Kuznetsova could never quite erase my memories of the wonderful Ana Maria Martinez, who brought an extra dimension to the role, particularly in that central section of the opera when Rusalka is struck dumb. This however is a very small niggle, and I mean it as a personal appreciation of Miss Martinez, rather than any criticism of Miss Kuznetsova.

A beautiful production, wonderful sets, great music and singing. All in all a majical evening.

excellent production beautifully sung-much enjoyed

A stunning production with such haunting archetypal themes, and so imaginatively staged. Beautiful voices too. We loved it. Thank you once again, Glyndebourne!

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