We feel it is important that the NNTT Opera lineup include, in addition to those popular standards that have become mainstays of the repertoire, great works that are not frequently staged in Japan. This season, we chose one from Eastern Europe. It will be our first production of Rusalka, the fantastic fairytale opera by Dvorak. Like Smetana and Janáček, Dvorak created operas based on Czech folk songs. He is well-known for his Symphony No. 9, the "New World Symphony". As the wistfully beautiful aria "Song to the Moon" shows, Dvorak also created operas with gorgeous melodies in abundance. The production to be staged at the NNTT was first performed in 2009 at the new home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, which opened in 2008 and made headlines with its daring design. It was thought that this production would be a perfect fit for the NNTT. Those same sets, costumes and props will be rented and used for the opera's premiere here at the theatre. The fairytale-like story unfolds in the form of a sensitive young girl's dream, and takes place in a mysterious forest home to frolicking nymphs, with a moon shining in the night sky. The emotions of the characters find clear expression in the music in this superb production, which is the work of Paul Curran, artistic director (Opera) of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. Czech Jaroslav Kyzlink will conduct in his NNTT debut. The lovely and talented Olga Guryakova will play the role of Rusalka.
Rusalka, a water spirit who lives in the forest, falls in love with a human prince. On a beautiful moonlit night, she tells her grandfather Vodnik the water spirit of her desire to become human, with a human soul, so she can marry the prince. Vodnik warns against it, but tells her she must seek the help of the witch Jezibaba if that is her wish. The witch agrees to grant Rusalka's wish, but in return she must give up her voice and, if the prince abandons her for another, will suffer eternal damnation along with him. Her love such that it is, Rusalka agrees and is transformed into a human being. The prince meets the beautiful Rusalka in the forest. He is instantly smitten and takes her back to his castle. At the castle, preparations begin for their wedding. But the prince's affections turn from the mute Rusalka to the foreign princess who has come for the wedding banquet. Vodnik comes to fetch the despondent Rusalka. He curses the prince for his betrayal and takes Rusalka back to the lake. She faces a fate of eternal damnation, as neither a human nor a water spirit. The witch appears. She gives Rusalka a dagger and tells her that if she kills the prince, she can be a water spirit again. But Rusalka still loves the prince, and throws the dagger into the lake. The prince, suffering under his curse, appears at the lake and begs Rusalka's forgiveness. She tells the prince that a kiss from her will kill him, but he feels that it is what he deserves for his unfaithfulness. He kisses Rusalka and dies in her arms. Rusalka vanishes into the lake.