Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950)
“For your love, for that beauty of yours,
for your inconstant human passion,
for everything by which my fate is cursed,
human soul, God have mercy on you!“
The world's most famous Czech opera, the masterpiece of Antonin Dvorak, has been enchanting audiences since its world premiere in 1901. The composer had a brilliant poetic libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil, inspired by Andersen's Little Mermaid, and Ballads by Karel Jaromir Erben with clear elements of symbolism and decadence in the late 19th century. The opera tells the fairy tale story of the water nymph Rusalka, who leaves the safety of her lake home and becomes a human for the love of the Prince. The emotionally unstable Prince betrays her for his momentary enchantment by another woman and she is then rejected by the human world. Betrayed Rusalka becomes a deadly element – a firefly – and among others even the Prince dies in her arms. The composer tells the story in a colourful and melodic way, the music is filled with passion; it is a expressive image of nature and emotions. Dvorak’s opera ends in a breath-taking catharsis – Rusalka forgives the Prince who is dying in her arms. The composer thus created one of the strongest and incomprehensibly purifying, elusive and beautiful musical endings in both Czech and international opera.
Performed in the Czech original with Czech and English subtitles.