Rusalka, ROH Covent Garden 01 March


Once again, everyone has seen and and commented on this production and once again Intermezzo has proved to be inerrant.

To my surprise, I was completely captivated by Dvorak’s music here, especially when it got into the hopeless melancholy yearning vein–hopeless melancholy yearning followed by suicidal despair: you don’t have to be a water-nymph to realise these are the eternal verities.  There were some passages of undemanding ineffectuality that were more what I expected from this composer, but who cares?

In the amphitheatre with the kind of view shown above we didn’t care about the shock-horror production either.  It seemed to me the typical kind of modern opera production, especially of Wagner, where what you see on stage contradicts what’s coming up from the pit and in the end the music wins.  My companion pointed out that we couldn’t see the allegedly-offensive details from our distance and it would be very difficult to take take seriously a literal representation of a fairyland-and-castle setting.  The production didn’t get in the way of putting the story across, which must be the main thing.

Talking of Wagner, we enjoyed what must be about the best orchestral playing (under conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin) that I’ve ever heard in an opera house.  And we had a tenor in Bryan Hymel who had completely mastered his part.

What do these complainers want?  Are they listening to the music at all?

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