Rusalka: Sergei Larin (the Prince), EVA Urbanova (the Foreign Princess) and Renee Fleming in the Title Role of the Paris Opera Production. (France: Paris; Opera in Review)

Article excerpt

Paris Opera's new staging of Rusalka was an astonishing occasion, a strong, evenly balanced production, firing on all cylinders. To be sure, soprano Renee Fleming infused the title role with tender, supple fragility, and conductor James Conlon coaxed a powerful, dramatic reading of this gloriously Romantic piece from his orchestra. But the chief engineers of my astonishment were Robert Carsen and Michael Levine. This Canadian director/designer team offered a visually arresting and psychologically fascinating window into human strengths and weakness. All this is seen from the perspective of an outsider, the water-sprite Rusalka, who wants desperately to become human so she can marry her prince (portrayed by Sergei Larin with a clear, ringing tenor).

Eschewing a traditional setting, Carsen and Levine presented their audience with a shallow rectangular pool and something quite strange: a modern bedroom suite, hanging halfway up a high wall. To create a mirrored effect, directly under every right-side-up piece of furniture there was an identical piece, suspended upside down. …


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