Magazine article Opera Canada

Rusalka

Magazine article Opera Canada

Rusalka

Article excerpt

FLEMING, HEPPNER, ZAJICK, HAWLATA, URBANOVA, The Kuhn Mixed Choir, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras, conductor. London 289 460 568-2 (3 discs). *****

ANTONIN DVORAK MAY BE BEST KNOWN AS AN instrumental composer, but he was personally more inclined to music theatre. As Patrick Lambert points out in his short introductory notes to this issue, as principal viola in the orchestra of the Provisional Theatre in Prague from its establishment in 1862-1873, Dvorak could truly be described as having been in at the birth of Czech opera--and went on to compose 10 operas of his own. "My main leaning is toward dramatic creation," the composer said shortly before his death in 1904, though Rusalka, the ninth of his dramatic works, remains the only one that has wide currency on opera stages today.

A single listening of this splendid recording shows why. Even if the magic of the fairy-tale plot--with nymphs, a water goblin, a witch and, of course, a handsome prince--doesn't captivate you, the gorgeous lyricism of the music surely will. Dvorak was a master of melody, and this opera weaves the tunes together seamlessly and irresistibly. …

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