CLOSE-UP – PASSIONATE RUSALKA
nepszava.hu Gábor Bóta
We could of course be afraid to attend the concert version of an opera since it is not by chance that this is a theatrical genre, and perhaps even the most spectacular of them. But the Palace of Arts has proved with Wagner productions in particular that even a half-staged version can be very inspiring, where imagination can conjure up the missing pieces.
But we also witnessed that the artists of the Viennese opera house performed Don Giovanni without any scenery or costumes, while the orchestra was also on the podium with singers acting in front of, behind, or even among them, just like in the one at the Erkel Theatre directed by the global star Ljubimov, a production that once triggered fierce debate. The narrowed space helped performers to break with opera conventions, like exaggerated gestures. This way a more natural and powerful performance was delivered, which welled up from the very depths of the soul.
The same thing happened at the Palace of Arts when Dvořák’s work entitled Rusalka, a classical national piece of music in the Czech Republic, was performed by the Budapest Festival Orchestra for the first time after its Hungarian premiere in the 1950s at the Opera House, accompanied by Iván Fischer’s intense conducting. He alone is disarming. The expressions on his face are very telling, displaying the mood of each and every character. Even Pavla Vykopalová made it apparent when she was not singing, but sitting on a chair, that she is the anxious yet extremely passionate mermaid Rusalka, who is longing for earthly love. Jolana Fogasová was a cold beauty, who enjoyed being the evil witch, and this character only needed some elementary gestures on the face to express her very mischievous mood. What is more, she also played another role, the evil seductress, wearing two different types of evening dress. Peter Mikuláš as water sprite was the embodiment of wisdom, while Aleš Briscein showed what horror untamed instincts can lead to. Rusalka is about the terrible nature of the world, but with beautiful story-telling, which could really be felt during this production.