‘Rusalka’ an operatic tale of love and loss

February 7, 2014 

Internationally-famed soprano Renee Flemming has been having one heck of a week. Following numerous television appearances leading up to her belting out the National Anthem to national acclaim at Sunday’s Super Bowl, the four-time Grammy winner will be singing one of her signature roles in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of Antonin Dvorak’s “Rusalka,” which can be seen Saturday at the Douglass Theatre.

We don’t usually think of Dvorak when opera is mentioned, but in fact he wrote nine operas, the most popular of which is “Rusalka,” best described as a fairy-tale treatment of the hazards of supernatural/human love. Flemming will be singing the title role (in Czech, with titles) with co-star tenor Piotr Beczala. The Met orchestra will be led by rising star Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

The plot, based on a disturbing legend in Slavic mythology, tells of Rusalka, a water-nymph who has fallen in love with the young prince who often visits the lake where she resides. Wishing to transform herself into a human, she visits the witch Jezibaba, from whom she learns that a potion will accomplish the task, but at a dreadful price. Not only will Rusalka lose her voice, but should the prince betray her, they will be forever damned.

Plunging ahead, Rusalka is set to marry the prince when a foreign princess catches his fickle eye. In the complications that ensue, the prince dies in her arms, but not before Rusalka experiences human love.

Although I have not previously seen this work performed live, I can’t help but wonder if the script writers for “The Little Mermaid” had something similar in mind, but with a happy ending.

An Opera Chat will precede the almost four-hour performance, but snacks and champagne from the Central Georgia Opera Guild will provide sustenance to the audience.

“Rusalka”

When: 12:55 p.m. Feb. 8

Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors

Information: www.metopera.org/hdlive, 478-742-2000

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