Kristine Opolais stars in the role that helped launch her international career, the mythical Rusalka, who sings the haunting “Song to the Moon.” Mary Zimmerman brings her wondrous theatrical imagination to Dvořák’s fairytale of love and longing, rejection and redemption. Brandon Jovanovich, Jamie Barton, Katarina Dalayman, and Eric Owens complete the all-star cast. Mark Elder conducts at this week’s live simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera.
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. 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.
Music historian Jeffrey Engel will present today’s opera talk, offering historical context for the composer and the opera stories. In Paris for 14 years, Mr. Engel studied cello, art history and earned diplomas in French. As a cellist he played with orchestras in France, including the Paris Opera, performed in chamber ensembles and taught in municipal conservatories. A graduate of Ithaca College, & a teacher at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Mr. Engel brings a rich knowledge of music history to each lecture, with music excerpts.