Rusalka - Synopsis

Rusalka (Krístīne Opolaís) Rusalka - Georg Zeppenfeld (Wassermann) und Kristīne Opolais (Rusalka) Rusalka: Kristīne Opolais (Rusalka) und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper

Rusalka

Antonín Dvořák
Jaroslav Kvapil

 
The characters in Antonin Dvořák’s opera do not have names, they are referred to by their nature or what they do. Only Rusalka (the water nymph) and Ježibaba (the witch) have retained their Czech names in the German version.

Act One

Three wood nymphs are teasing the Water goblin, who tries to catch one of them. Rusalka, on the other hand, longs to escape from the watery element in which she lives and have a soul in order to be able to experience love for a human being. Not even the warnings of the Water goblin can change her mind. She begs the Ježibaba to grant her human attributes. In return Rusalka will lose the ability to speak. If she should fail to win the love of a human both she and her lover will be damned for ever by the curse of the watery powers.

Out hunting, the Prince follows the tracks of a white deer and comes across Rusalka. He is fascinated by her and takes her home with him to his palace.

Act  Two

Preparations are being made for a ball and in the course of these the Gamekeeper learns from the Turnspit that the Prince intends to marry the “strange being” which he had brought home from the woods a week earlier. The Prince reproaches Rusalka for her silence and lack of warmth. The Foreign Princess admonishes the Prince, telling him that he should be looking after his guests. Rusalka sees the two of them leaving together and remains on her own. The Water goblin has visited Rusalka and bemoans her fate. While he is there she gets her voice back and sees herself as a captive between life and death.
The Foreign Princess has won the Prince’s heart and he casts Rusalka aside. The voice of the Water goblin threatens that he will never be able to leave her embrace.

Act Three

In her despair Rusalka again seeks help from the Ježibaba, who tells her that only the shedding of the blood of her seducer can redeem her from the curse and allow her to return to the watery element. Rusalka, however, refuses to take the knife that is off ered to her and the water nymphs then cast her out. The Gamekeeper and the Turnspit come to ask the Ježibaba for advice about the confused Prince. When they maintain that Rusalka is responsible for his condition the Water goblin reminds them that the Prince jilted her and swears he will be revenged.

The Water goblin reminds the wood nymphs of Rusalka’s melancholy fate. The Prince seeks his jilted lover in despair and begs her for the kiss which will end his life. Rusalka begs for mercy for his soul.