DVOŘÁK, IVÁN FISCHER’S FATHER TONGUE
figaro.postr.hu József Kling
Through Dvořák’s Rusalka, Iván Fischer proved in a spectacular way that operas do not need to be staged anymore.
There is no arrangement that would generate an inner theatrical experience in the listener upon hearing overwhelmingly beautiful music. In this respect I hold the same view as Kierkegaard, who did not even enter the auditorium after a while. He was mostly affected by the world of music per se standing against the wall in the hall of the opera house, which excluded him from the auditorium. However, that meant he distanced himself from others in the audience. Despite the fact that nobody sitting next to him could have had a mobile phone in their pocket, whose stupid ringtone would have been heard at the very height of the most beautiful arias, just as it was now, but this did not make the singer or the orchestra freeze.
Today we are full to the brim with images, we have seen everything in films. The vast majority of opera arrangements, however, are unable to connect the eyes with the ears, what is more, it even seems as if they knowingly try to dissociate one from the other.
During a concert-like performance even the slightest expressions on the singers’ faces have a special emphasis. Pavla Vykopalová’s stage performance as Rusalka could even be the envy of the best actors of alternative theatre. She sang through the first movement, because later she had to be silent for a long time. The water nymph longing for true love must pay a considerable price for becoming human: she has to relinquish her voice. And admittedly, this is a great sacrifice in an opera.
It is a pleasure to listen to the dark soprano of Pedig Vykopalová. Even if she is not singing, but just looking, she has a strong presence, and her pupils dilate passionately. Yet passion is exactly what she can never indulge. Several arrangers have made a cold-blooded drama of the female identity of this piece. Right there, music generates a primer tale, which is a psychologically authentic and tangible yet mysterious and evocative abstract experience without any ideology. It feels like a release when a performance makes it possible for listeners to hide themselves in music, as Kierkegaard put it.
Ježibaba’s vampire-like character played by Jolana Fogašová was also a valuable experience. The cold witch could even have had a role in the Twilight Saga. Her face is more demonic than her voice with too much vibrato, struggling with its own depths. Fogašová simultaneously plays Rusalka’s rival, who is nevertheless unable to change her cold skin even when acting like a warm-blooded sex goddess.
Even the prince falling in love with Rusalka has difficulties. During the last movement, Aleš Briscein extended his lyrical tenor to a “high C” without a safety net. If all this had happened in the circus ring, the neck-breaking sideshow would have made the audience gasp. Now I understand why Briscein sat so tight during the entire performance. He had dreaded all along having to sing at that pitch with good reason. Nonetheless, he played the most typical Wagner character of the piece. Both in terms of his musical aptitude and attitude, the way he tried to countervail against his shortcomings. We are most human when we make mistakes.
Even the paternalistic water goblin rendered by Peter Mikuláš is quite Wagnerian, while the three mermaids could also be looked upon as a parody of the three Norns from the Twilight of the Gods.
Even the flowing symphony orchestra displayed Wagner’s effect, only their tone was much softer and more lyrical, and not so mythological but purely inspired by folk tales and folk music. This music blending the strings, brasses and woodwinds into a symbiosis sounded so light and heavy at the same time as if Dvořák was the father tongue of Iván Fischer and the BFO.