Rusalka, almost a century later, at the Theatre Royal
Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904)
Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil, based on the fairy tale Undine (1811) by Friedrich de la Motte Fourqué and inspired by the story The Little Mermaid (1837) by Hans Christian Andersen and other European stories.
New production of the Royal Theater in co-production with the Dresden Semperoper, the Teatro Comunale Bologna, he
Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the Palau Les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia.
Teatro Real in Madrid 13 November 2020
D. Musical: Ivor Bolton
D. scene: Christof Loy
Scenographer: Johannes Leiacker
Costume designer: Ursula Renzenbrink
Choreographer: Klevis Elmazaj
D. choir: Andrés Máspero
Distribution: Olesya Golovneva, David Butt Philip, Rebecca von Lipinski, Andreas Bauer Kanabas, Okka from the Damerau, Sebastiá Peris, Esteve Manel, Juliet Mars, Julitta Aleksanyan, Rachel Kelly and Alyona Abramova.
In 1891 Antonin Dvorák received a letter at his home in Prague in which the influential Jeanette Thurber, founder of the New York National Conservatory of Music, offered him the position of director of the New York Conservatory. It was there that he wrote one of his best known works, the New World Symphony, and it was there also that Dvorák listened, as I had not done before, Wagner's obas. He lived in New York until 1895, year he returned to Prague to take over his Conservatory. It was then that Rusalka wrote, the penultimate of his works, and where is warned, clearly, Wagner influences. Not only for its ambitious duration, more than three hours, if not, by the use of leitmotifs referring to the characters and an orchestration full of complexity and delicacy., in the case of Dvorák, the nationalist inspiration could not be missing in the score. And it is that Rusalka is, above all, an opera with a strong Czech character. Evocative of romantic melodies, that can be seen in some of the brightest moments played by the harp or that ending, almost momentous, which is considered by many one of the most sublime opera of all time.Rusalka arrives at the Royal Theater as one of the great premieres of the season. And it can be considered a premiere, since since 1924 it had not been re-represented in Madrid. On that occasion, was his librettist, Jaroslav Kvapil, who took over the stage direction.

The libretto is based on the fairy tale Undine (1811) by Friedrich de la Motte Fourqué and inspired by the story The Little Mermaid (1837) by Hans Christian Andersen and other European stories. Is, definitely, a tale that stage director Christof Loy (Whose Capriccio from last season we'll never forget), has located inside a theater.

For Loy, the theater is the only place where reality and dreams can be represented at the same time. That duality that exists in the work between the fantastic world, to which Rusalka belongs and the underworld she longs for. But Loy's elegant, gray scenography is missing essential elements of the work. The lake, who is one more character and who gives meaning to the protagonists and the story, does not appear by chance. Nor are there hardly any references to nature, another must-have romantic item.

Ivor Bolton's musical direction was at a great height. The expressiveness of his gestures infects the orchestra that had moments of great brilliance, generating that magical atmosphere of the score. The strings and magic that Mickäele Granados was able to generate with his harp stood out from a prominent place above the pit.

Extraordinary the choir, this time offstage, that recreated the magic of the lake flawlessly. Very good also the performance of the dancers and actors, who did not act as a mere accompaniment in the scenes, but they had a great role in that kind of sexual orgy that Christof Loy marked himself.

The young Russian soprano Olesya Golovneva demonstrated great versatility on stage, not only sang, she also tiptoed around the stage with her ballet slippers. With a pleasant timbre and a delicate line of singing, reached moments of great beauty in his interventions. He found his difficulties in the most serious areas of his score.

The British David Butt Philip was in charge of giving life to the prince who falls in love with Rusalka. A role not easy, due to the great demand that the tenor has in this work and that Butt knew how to address without great difficulties.

Andreas Bauer Kanabas' Vodnik best represented the most heartless part of the menacing father, than the protector with her daughter Rusalka. Has powerful low and mid tones, but it had its difficulties in the highest notes.

The evil Jezibaba was played by German mezzo-soprano Okka von der Damerau. His good stage presence helped raise a dual character, like the rest, with its funny part and its disturbing and dark part. Good flow of well-timbred and adjusted voice.

Rebecca von Lipinski played the insinuating foreign princess with great intention and freshness, Rusalka's rival in conquering the prince.

Much applauded were the three nymphs played by Julietta Aleksanyan, Rachel Kelly, with impressive treble, and Alyona Abramova. With very balanced and well timbred voices, they unfolded with ease all over the stage.

The rest of the cast was at a high level, both the hunter by Sebastiá Peris and the servants played by Manel Esteve and Juliet Mars.

One more success of the Royal Theater, that continues to make representations, It is already without stage adaptations due to the pandemic, to the amazement of the theaters of the rest of Europe. Good for Matabosch!.

Text: Paloma Sanz
pictures: Monika Rittershaus