Met's New Production of 'Rusalka' Coming to PBS's GREAT PERFORMANCES, 6/18

Met's New Production of 'Rusalka' Coming to PBS's GREAT PERFORMANCES, 6/18Kristine Opolais stars in her first Met performances of her breakthrough role, the title character in Antonin Dvoák's Rusalka, in a critically acclaimed new staging, directed by Mary Zimmerman and conducted by Mark Elder, on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET Sunday, June 18 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)

Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvorak's Rusalka. Photo by Ken Howard,Metropolitan Opera.

This haunting love story also stars Jamie Barton as the witch Jezibaba, with Katarina Dalayman as the Foreign Princess, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Eric Owens as Rusalka's father, the Water Sprite.

The opera premiered at the National Theater in Prague in 1901. The only one of Dvo?ák'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.

Czech composer Antonín Dvo?ák (1841-1904) was celebrated internationally during his lifetime for his chamber, choral, and symphonic music, while his nine operas found little renown beyond his native Bohemia. He was especially popular in London and in New York, where he served for a while as director of the short-lived National Conservatory of Music. Jaroslav Kvapil (1868-1950) was a Czech author and poet who had written the libretto for Rusalka before Dvo?ák became interested in it.

The opera takes place in an unspecified fairy-tale setting. Contrasting unspoiled and "honest" nature (the woods and lake of the framing acts) with corrupt human culture (the Prince's palace in Act II) was a favorite theme of Romantic artists.

The New York Times proclaimed it "a dark, sexy hit" and noted the "matchless cast led by the lovely soprano Kristine Opolais, who gives a vocally lustrous and achingly vulnerable performance," adding that "Mark Elder conducted a glowing account." THE WALL Street Journal acclaimed the "handsome new production" and found it "a luminous performance." The Huffington Post noted Brandon Jovanovich's "strong voice" and "commanding presence" and declared, "Eric Owens delivers another powerful performance".