MN Opera performs Rusalka

This week the Minnesota Opera has been performing Rusalka by Dvorak.  The plot is adapted from the Little Mermaid, although not with a Disney ending.

The overall story is a little light, and a bit bizarre, but the music is outstanding.

Coming from my worldview of an atheist, I found it interesting that in the opening act, that Rusalka wants to be human, become mortal so her soul can go to heaven when she dies.  Not sure if that is the original translation or just the translation that we saw, but it strikes of trying to convert people to Christianity from a pagan belief system.

We also have the prince falling for the mute (just to humans) Rusalka in less than a week, and then falling for the more passionate foreign princess.  Rusalka’s dress in this second act was well designed to convey the image of being a fish, but the red color, which looked very nice, didn’t match the words or concept of her being cold and that being the reason the prince left her for this foreign princess.

At the very end, the prince commits suicide, basically sacrificing himself for the curse that befell Rusalka when he rejected her.  I wonder how that balances out theologically and ethically, I mean he isn’t really sacrificing himself as much to help Rusalka as to get over his guilt.

The set was really nice, it worked well, especially with the projected images.  Other than the red dress for Rusalka in the second act, I really thought the costumes fit well with the theme of the opera and the set.  The chorus was pretty minimal, but the use of dancers was really nice and enhanced the production.

I really enjoyed the signing and I thought all the roles were well sung.

I brought my friend Egil, who really enjoyed it.  He thought there was a lot of Wagner in this opera.  He also shouted out a lot of bravos and bravas, and got thumbs up from some of  the cast as they walked on stage, so clearly they appreciated his enthusiasm.  I know that staff at the Minnesota Opera know of him as bravo guy, and last year I talked to one that wondered what had happened to him as he hasn’t been able to go for the past few years, they will know that he is back now.

There are two performances left, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  I would highly recommend them if you are free.

-Josh

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Romeo and Juliet at the Minnesota Opera

On January 29, I saw the new production of Romeo and Juliet by the Minnesota Opera. It was a very nice production. The leads were strong singers.

The set was quite good, which is a welcome change from recent productions. Orazi e Curazi had that hideous wooden stockade out of the colonial era frontier, and the wardrobe was some ugly civil war style. La Donna del Lago was pretty minimalist, and not in the cool music way like Glass, with barely any set, and a re-work of the Orazi civil war wardrobe, but with kilts. The Grapes of Wrath had a nice wardrobe that fit the times, but a very utilitarian metal set. This set was some large structures as buildings that moved between acts. They often projected images on the buildings which was used to best effect at the beginning of the second act. They projected water, which seemed to be from that vantage point of underwater and it was a perfect image to start the scene below Juliet’s balcony.

The opening of the fourth act was pretty strange with a replay of the murders of Mercutio and Tybalt in slow motion. Thankfully John Madden was talking about how the murders played out.

The other exciting news is that I received the renewal information for 2008-2009 season which looks quite good.

  • Il trovatore by Verdi
  • The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart
  • Faust by Gounod
  • The adventures of Pinocchio by Dove
  • The Barber of Seville by Rossini

The cheap seats on Tuesday and Thursdays have gone up a little, but are still cheaper than Minnesota Orchestra’s cheap seats.

-Josh