Muscat: Audiences at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) were treated to a grandiose visual and musical spectacle in the form of Dvorak's mythical opera Rusalka over the weekend.
Rusalka, first performed in 1901, is Dvorak's most famous opera, and it was the first Czech opera to come to the ROHM. This imaginative and striking production, directed by Vladimir Moravek and performed by the Janacek Opera of the National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic, premiered two years ago.
Rusalka, a water nymph, falls in love with a human prince. Desperate to become human, too, she makes a bargain with a witch, Jezibaba, and gives up her voice and agrees that if she loses the prince's love, she will eternally be a demon of death.
On land, the prince falls in love with Rusalka, but since she is cold and can't speak, he loses interest and falls in love with another. Back in the pond, Jezibaba tells Rusalka that the curse can be lifted if she kills the prince, but she refuses.
The prince soon realises his mistake and goes in search of Rusalka. She warns him that her kiss will kill him, but since he can't live without her, he dies in her embrace, and she is left to her fate as a demon of death.
Dvorak's music is dynamic and emotional, and there are several exquisite arias, such as the Rusalka's famous Song to the Moon, which is like a romantic lullaby. The principals were strong, and the orchestra, under the baton of Jakub Klecker, was superb. But in this production, it was the full package that captivated the audience, since in addition to the dramatic music, there were stunning costumes and other visual effects.
Costume designer Sylva Zimula Hanakova deserves great applause for her vision. Creatures that were half human and half horse, blue-haired nymphs, and dark, imposing twin witch and foreign princess like figures were entrancing in their own strange way.
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