Dvorak's dark side set to light up the stage
Friday 24 February 2012
I'm all for cats at the opera – a fuzzy feline will always raise a smile. But isn't there something alarming about it when a mermaid meets one? We all know what cats do to fish. It looks as if that might happen to the unfortunate Rusalka, the eponymous heroine of Dvorak's post-Wagnerian take on The Little Mermaid, in the opera's first-ever production at the Royal Opera House.
Rusalka is a grand-scale epic, a seriously dark fairy tale, its ending notable for its bleak lack of redemption. A co-production with the Salzburg Festival, Covent Garden's staging is headed by the long-established directorial duo of Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, with Samantha Seymour as revival director. They have clearly been having some fun transforming Dvorak's bizarrely neglected masterpiece for the age of postmodern regietheater, or "director's opera". It is filled with Freudian subtexts and timeless mythical symbols.
"Everybody knows the Andersen tale of The Little Mermaid," says Morabito. "We are trying to go with that and to be playful with it." The physical sets are complemented by film projections, which apparently include a jellyfish floating past during Rusalka's famous "Song to the Moon" while the giant cat is played by a dancer.
It seems odd that Rusalka should be new to the UK's leading opera house. Perhaps its sinister qualities have proved daunting; or perhaps it is too derivative of Wagner. Then there's the awkwardness of singing in Czech. And there's the paradox that the heroine, struck mute by the witch, sings not one note for half of the second act.
'Rusalka', Royal Opera House, London, WC2, (www.roh.org.uk) from Monday until 14 March
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Refugee crisis: Sweden the only European country with a majority favourable towards non-EU immigration
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
'Beasts of No Nation': Netflix releases trailer of first feature film, starring Idris Elba
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees