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Rusalka

You may be familiar with this story in one of its many iterations, but you absolutely will be thrilled by this unique telling. Rusalka is a Czech tale that parallels the Greek myths of the Hylas and the Nymphs, the Germanic Nix, the Irish Banshee, the Scottish Bean Nighe, and the Romanian Iele, and bears a resemblance to The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and in Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué: an immortal falls in love with a mortal and gives up eternal life to experience love—a sure recipe for heartache.

The wood sprites
The wood sprites
Photo: Matthew Staver
Director Eric Simonson has crafted one of the most beautiful and imaginative productions that you're ever likely to see. The setting for the first and third act serves as both a river bed and the river bottom, transforming itself through stunning projections designed by Wendall K. Harrington, one of the world's formost theatrical projection designers, (who spoke at the Denver Center Theatre Company's fifth annual Colorado New Play Summit, while she was in town).

Simonson chooses to set the second act in contemporary times, which, after the initial jolt, makes for interesting commentary on our disconnection from nature.

Kelly Kaduce as Rusalka and Stefan Szkafarowsky as Vodnik
Kelly Kaduce as Rusalka and
Stefan Szkafarowsky as Vodnik
Photo: Matthew Staver
Kelly Kaduce bewitches as the title character, with her lovely soprano as well as her charming stage presence. Rusalka, a water nymph soothes the prince (August Amonov), when he comes to bathe in the river, but he is unaware of her presence. Rusalka tells her father, Vodnik (Stefan Szkafarowsky) she wants to become human. Reluctantly, he sends her to the witch, Jezibaba (Catherine Cook), who strikes a hard bargain—if Rusalka fails to win her lover, both of them will be cursed forever.

Cook's strong and sonorous mezzo adds wallop to the curse. Szkafarowsky's smokey timbre befits the king of the depths. Amonov does a workmanlike job, a little shy with the chemistry.

The Colorado Symphony provides a warm rendition of Dvorák's score. Beautiful choreography of the wood sprites by Rachael Harding.

Remaining performances of Opera Colorado's Rusalka are February 18th and 20th. 303-357-ARTS.

Bob Bows

 

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