Review: Rusalka, Glyndebourne Opera House, until August 27


THIS was an opera which had it all - an amazing orchestra in the form of the London Philharmonic, incredible costumes, a magical set and bewitching vocals.

Rusalka is based on a dark fairy tale straight out of Czech folklore, about a water sprite, complete with 20 foot long tail, who falls in love with a prince and begs the witch Jezibaba to turn her into a human.

The forest is menacing yet beautiful, with a blue light helping to create the darkness of the woods and white lights twinkling in the bushes.

Rusalka’s nymph relatives descend from the ceiling, also sporting white 20 foot long tails, which writhe around as they sing in soft tones.

Unfortunately when Rusalka is transformed into a human, she is rendered mute and is unable to communicate with her prince charming.

He soon gets bored with that and within a week has fallen for a foreign princess, leaving Rusalka alone and cast out by her nymph cousins.

The fairy tale, which is more Brothers Grimm than Disney, can also be read allegorically, whereby Rusalka represents the rural Czech women who worked in noblemen’s houses in Vienna, who were made pregnant by their masters, then cast out on to the street and shunned by society.

This was a moving and captivating opera, with a set and costumes which made you feel as if you were in the forest or the prince’s castle.

The music was out of this world and seemed to spirit you away with it.

Performances from the cast were superb, with highly charged emotions and at times comic turns.

It also has a plot that makes you delve a little deeper as you analyse the character’s actions and question their motives.

Without question this was a spectacular opera - and one not to be missed.

Photo by Alastair Muir, Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2011, showing the Rusalka cast ensemble.