About the program
Dvořák was also prolific as an opera composer; of his ten theatrical pieces Rusalka is the only one which enjoyed sustained international success. Over recent decades it has been increasingly popular, and has been on the programme of several large opera houses all over the world. Originally it was meant to be a “Lyrical tale”, reflecting the point of departure for the composer. The story is indeed similar to the story of the little Mermaid: the mermaid falls in love with the prince, becomes a human being, but loses her voice and cannot cope with the trials and tribulations.
Dvořák met the librettist Jaroslav Kvapil in 1889, when he was looking for a new libretto after completing his comic opera The Devil and Kate. The tale of the Czech mermaid is akin to other well-known mermaid stories: the story of Undine, used by E.T.A. Hoffmann in his opera, the medieval French heroine Melusine, and of course Andersen’s little mermaid. Rusalka was first presented in 1901 in the National Theatre in Prague.
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Antonín Dvořák: Rusalka