Dvorak's RUSALKA To Open At The Met Starring Kristine Opolais, Today

Kristine Opolais stars in her first Met performances of her breakthrough role, the title character in Dvo?ák's Rusalka, in a new staging, directed by Mary Zimmerman and conducted by Sir Mark Elder, opening at the Met February 2. The dark love story between a water spirit and a human man, derived in large part from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," will also star Jamie Barton in her role debut as the swamp witch Ježibaba, with Katarina Dalayman in her role debut as the Foreign Princess, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Eric Owens as Rusalka's father, the Water Sprite. The production features sets by Daniel Ostling, costumes by Mara Blumenfeld, lighting design by T.J. Gerckens, and choreography by Austin Mccormick in his Met debut.

The Saturday, February 25 matinee performance of Rusalka will be transmitted worldwide as part of the Met's Live in HD series, which is now seen in more than 2,000 movie theaters in 70 countries around the world.

Cast and Conductor Bios

Kristine Opolais has sung the title character in Rusalka to great acclaim at the Bavarian State Opera. Last season, she sang the title role of the Met's new production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly. She filled in for a sick colleague as a last minute replacement for the HD performance and live radio broadcast as Mimì in Puccini's La Bohème with the company in 2014. In 2013, she made her Met debut as Magda in Puccini's La Rondine. She reprised Mimì in La Bohème this season, and following her performances as Rusalka at the Met, she will star in the title role of Puccini's Tosca at the Baden-Baden Festival, reprise the title character in Rusalka at the Bavarian State Opera, and she will also sing at the Met's 50th Anniversary at Lincoln Center Gala in May.

Jamie Barton makes her role debut as Ježibaba. She first came to prominence as a winner of the Met's National Council Auditions in 2007, a process that was documented in the award-winning film The Audition. She made her Met debut in 2009 as the Second Lady in Mozart'sDie Zauberflöte, returned to make company role debuts as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma, and last season as GiovAnna Seymour in Donizetti's Anna Bolena. She sang Fenena in Verdi's Nabucco earlier this season, and after Rusalka, she will sing Waltraute/Second Norn in Wagner's Götterdämmerung at the Houston Grand Opera and Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo at Deusche Oper Berlin.

Katarina Dalayman makes her role debut as the Foreign Princess. She made her Met debut as Brangäne in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in 1999. Her other roles with the company include Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre, Marie in Berg's Wozzeck, and Kundry in the new production of Wagner's Parsifal in 2013. Later this season, she will star as Fricka in Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Royal Swedish Opera.

Brandon Jovanovich has sung the Prince at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Glyndebourne Festival. He made his Met debut as Don José in Bizet's Carmen in the 2009-10 season and returned to the role in 2010-11, and again in 2014-15, when he agreed at short notice to replace an ailing colleague in two performances. His other performances this season include Don José in Carmen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Siegmund in Die Walküre at Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Eric Owens has previously sung the Water Sprite at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As a winner of the 1996 Met's National Council Auditions, he made his company debut in 2008 as General Leslie Groves in John Adams's Doctor Atomic, followed by roles as Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute and Alberich in the Ring Cycle. Earlier this season, Owens added a new role to his Met repertory as Jaufré Rudel in the Met premiere of Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin. Later this season, he will sing the Voice of Neptune in Mozart's Idomeneo at the Met.

Sir Mark Elder has been Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra since 2000 and is currently President of the London Philharmonic Choir. He was formerly Music Director of English National Opera and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Mozart Players. Sir Elder has conducted at numerous opera houses around the world including Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. He made his Met debut in 1988 leading Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and has conducted multiple productions with the company, including Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera and Otello, Boito's Mefistofele, Wagner's Tannhäuser, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Later this season, he will lead Carmen at the Paris Opera.

Director and Creative Team Bios

Mary Zimmerman returns to the Met for her fourth new production with the company. Zimmerman made her debut with the 2007 season-opening production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and followed with Bellini's La Sonnambula and Rossini's Armida. She is the Manilow Resident Director at the Goodman Theatre and a member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, both in Chicago. She is also a professor of performance studies at Northwestern University. Zimmerman's other opera productions include the 2002 world premiere of Philip Glass's Galileo Galilei, for which she also co-wrote the libretto, and Die Zauberflöte at the Chicago Opera Theatre. In 2002, Zimmerman received a Tony Award for Best Direction for her original adaptation of Ovid'sMetamorphoses.

Daniel Ostling made his Met debut collaborating with Mary Zimmerman as the set designer for Lucia di Lammermoor in 2007 and La Sonnambula in 2009. He received a Tony nomination for his set designs for Metamorphoses, and he also collaborated with Zimmerman on Galileo Galilei, Measure for Measure at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Trojan Women at the Goodman Theatre, among many other productions. His work in opera and musical theater includes Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi for the San Francisco Opera Center, Sondheim's Pacific Overtures for Chicago Shakespeare Theater and its Olivier Award-winning revival in London, and Osvaldo Golijov'sAinadamar at Tanglewood. Ostling is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago.

Mara Blumenfeld has collaborated multiple times with Zimmerman, including her Met debut in 2007 for Lucia di Lammermoor, followed by La Sonnambula, as well as Metamorphoses, Galileo Galilei, Akhnaten, Measure for Measure, Trojan Women, and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Blumenfeld has also designed costumes for Lehár's The Merry Widow at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre, and her work has been seen frequently at the Goodman and Steppenwolf theater companies in Chicago, as well as at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music and the Berkeley Rep. She is the recipient of two Drama Desk Awards and a Laurence Olivier Award.
T. J. Gerckens' lighting designs have won him many honors, including a Drama Desk Award (Metamorphoses) and nomination (The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci). He also designed the lighting for Zimmerman's productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, his Met debut in 2007, and La Sonnambula in addition to Galileo Galilei, Measure for Measure, The Odyssey, and Arabian Nights, among others. He is currently an assistant professor and lighting designer at Otterbein University in Ohio.

Austin Mccormick makes his Met debut choreographing Rusalka. He has previously choreographed Verdi's La Traviata at Chicago Lyric Opera, as well as Cavalli's Eliogabalo, at Gotham Chamber Opera, and the Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. As a graduate of Julliard, he is the founder, choreographer, and Artistic Director of Company XIV, a Baroque-based, modern-infused burlesque Dance Company.

Rusalka Fun Facts

Jaroslav Kvapil based his libretto on fairy tales written by Czech writers Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena N?mcová, which contain elements of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. Kvapil wrote the libretto in 1899 and began to look for a composer who might be interested in his work. Dvo?ák was always interested in Erben's fairy tales and began composing a score for Kvapil's libretto. In 1901, Rusalka premiered in Prague to critical acclaim. Over the past 100 years, the opera has gained popularity around the world.

Rusalka premiered at the Met in 1993 in a production directed by Otto Schenk and has been performed 27 times by the company. Only three sopranos have sung the title role at the Met: Gabriela Benacková, Gwynne Geyer, and Renée Fleming, who has sung the title character18 times with the company.

Rusalka Live in HD and Radio Broadcasts

The February 25 matinee performance of Rusalka will be transmitted live around the world at 12:55 p.m. ET hosted by Matthew Polenzani. The transmission will be seen in more than 2,000 movie theaters in 70 countries around the world. The February 2 performance ofRusalka will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performance on Febraury 13, 21, and 25 matinee. The February 2 performance will also be streamed on the Met's web site, www.metopera.org.

A performance on February 25 will be broadcast over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

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