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Opera Rusalka (opera in 4 acts) by Dargomyzhsky
World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - Mariinsky II (New Theatre)

Running time: 3 hours 45 minutes

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for Rusalka (opera in 4 acts) by Dargomyzhsky 2022

Composer: Alexander Dargomyzhsky
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Musical Preparation: Marina Mishuk
Set Designer: Zinovy Margolin
Lighting Designer: Damir Ismagilov
Production: Vasily Barkhatov
Costume Designer: Maria Danilova
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Petrenko
Stage Director: Vasily Barkhatov

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra

Opera in 4 acts

Performed in Russian

Premiere of this production: 24 May 2013, Mariinsky II, St Petersburg

Rusalka is an opera by Russian composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky, composed during 1848-1855. This production was premierred on 24 May 2013. Musical Director - Valery Gergiev.

Rusalki, the water-nymphs, have made many operatic appearances. The most famous of them all sings the title role in Dvorzak’s Rusalka, but the Russian composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky (1813-69) got there first with his version drawn from Pushkin’s dramatic poem.

Premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1856, it is a lyrical work with roots in bel canto transmitted via Glinka, though there are places where Dargomyzhsky experiments with the radical realist aesthetic he was later to develop in The Stone Guest, in which his vocal writing attempts to mimic speech.

It also echoes German Romantic music – there are French influences too – through the use of melodrama, when Rusalochka (daughter of Rusalka and the Prince) speaks over the music. Recorded in Cologne with a cast steeped in the Russian idiom, this is a very welcome recording (even if the booklet includes a synopsis rather than libretto).

Rusalka is an opera in four acts, six tableaux, by Alexander Dargomyzhsky, composed during 1848-1855. The Russian libretto was adapted by the composer from Pushkin's incomplete dramatic poem of the same name. The premiere took place on 4 May 1856 (Old Style) at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Although much of Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka is fairly conventional in musical form and style, its singular innovation for the history of Russian music in particular is the application of "melodic recitative" at certain points in the drama. This type of recitative consists of lyrical utterances which change continuously according to the dramatic situation, with likewise varied accompaniment in the orchestra. Dargomyzhsky was to apply this technique of vocal composition on a small scale in his songs and on a large scale in his final opera, The Stone Guest.

Dargomyzhsky’s opera is closely linked with the Mariinsky Theatre. At the Circus Theatre, located on the site now occupied by the Mariinsky, the first production was premiered on 4 (16, Old Style) May 1856, and it was not a particular success due to the use of sets and costumes from stock and the large number of cuts made to the score. Following the opera’s revival in 1865 at the recently built Mariinsky Theatre, however, under the baton of the outstanding conductor Eduard Franceviи Nбpravnнk and with the magnificent Russian singers Osip Petrov as the Miller, Yulia Platonova as Natasha, Fyodor Komissarzhevsky as the Prince and Daria Leonova as the Princess, true success came to Rusalka. “At last the public has come to understand my music. Women and, without exaggeration, even men wiped the tears from their eyes. The opera is, at last, being performed my way...” the delighted composer reflected in a letter.

Alexander Dargomyzhsky made an inestimable contribution to the history of Russian music and Russian opera in particular, creating a new genre following in the footsteps of Glinka’s historically heroic A Life for the Tsar and the fairytale epic Ruslan and Lyudmila: it was the first Russian everyday psychological musical drama. Modest Musorgsky called Alexander Dargomyzhsky “a great teacher of musical truth” for the ability of his musical language to convey nuances of the characters’ psychological state of mind and the situation. The highly respected music critic Alexander Serov also considered “the truth of the musical expression” a highly important factor in the composer’s talent.

The libretto was written by the composer himself and he took great care with Alexander Pushkin’s text, making minimal amendments. Dargomyzhsky’s music conveys the artistic essence of the dramatic plot of the tragedy: it is not no much about the vengeful retribution of the mermaid, the Miller’s deceived daughter as it is about the remorse and spiritual transformation of the Prince.

Starting with a production in 1897 at the Mamontov Private Russian Opera in Moscow (conducted by Sergei Rachmaninoff with Fyodor Chaliapin as the Miller), Rusalka came to be one of the most popular Russian operas. The opera returned to the Mariinsky Theatre in 1875 and again in 1904 (directed by Osip Paleиek). It was this production that was revived in the Soviet era in 1929 and which was staged until 1941. The opera was then dropped from the repertoire of the Kirov Theatre. Now, in the year marking two centuries since the birth of Alexander Dargomyzhsky, the Mariinsky Theatre is restoring one of the finest Russian operas to its repertoire.

Act I
A mill on the banks of the River Dnepr. Natasha, the Miller’s daughter, is waiting for the Prince she loves so passionately. Somewhat rude and mercenary, the Miller instructs his daughter how to behave with her beloved: he wants to see some profit from the Prince’s favour. Soon the Prince himself appears, having come to speak with Natasha. Natasha is delighted at the Prince’s arrival. The Miller calls the peasants to comfort the Prince with singing and dancing, though the latter remains unaffected. The Prince tells Natasha that they are soon to be parted. Natasha guesses that the Prince is planning to marry someone else. The Prince tries to buy his way out with extravagant presents and gives Natasha a necklace. The shattered Natasha informs the Prince that she is soon to become a mother. Promising not to abandon her and the child, the Prince departs. Natasha scolds her father bitterly for being driven by greed and forcing her into this situation. In despair she plunges herself into the Dnepr.

Act II
A luxurious mansion. The Prince is celebrating his marriage amid great pomp and merriment. An ancient wedding ritual is underway. Suddenly a sad song can be heard about an abandoned girl who drowned herself. The guilty party was never unmasked. When the Prince attempts to kiss his young bride a woman’s scream can be heard. The banquet guests are left in disarray.

Scene 1

The Prince’s palace. The Princess is sad in her loneliness. The days when the Prince loved her have long since passed. Now she is increasingly left alone. Olga, the Princess’ friend, tries to distract her with a merry song. Having learned that the Prince plans to spend the night alone on the banks of the Dnepr, Olga and the Princess set out to look for him.

Scene 2
Night, the banks of the Dnepr. Twelve years have passed since the Prince last visited Natasha. The mill on the banks of the Dnepr have long been in ruins, but the Prince is still drawn here by some unseen force. The Prince’s appearance frightens the mermaids who have come to the surface to play in the moonlight. The Prince sadly recalls his former happiness. Suddenly a shabby old man in rags appears before him. It is the Miller, now insane and imagining himself to be a raven and the guardian of this place. He attacks the Prince. Hunters rush in and save their master.

Act IV
Scene 1

The underwater palace of the mermaids on the bed of the Dnepr. Natasha has become queen of the mermaids. She sends them to the surface to play in the moonlight with her daughter Rusalochka with the order to meet her father on the shore and tell him that Natasha still loves him and is waiting for him. Left alone, she dreams of love and revenge on her rival in love.

Scene 2
The shore of the Dnepr. The Prince has come once more to the ruins of the mill. Rusalochka approaches him from the waters and calls on him to follow her. The Princess hastens in together with Olga and tries to stop her husband, but the Miller pushes him into the water. The mermaids take the body of the Prince to their queen. 

© Mariinsky Theatre

Schedule for Rusalka (opera in 4 acts) by Dargomyzhsky 2022

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