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Dvorak opera to make debut

by Chiho Iuchi

Staff Writer

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s (1841-1904) symphonies, such as Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” are well known to Japanese audiences. However, his operatic works have not been performed that often in Japan.

This month, the opera “Rusalka” will be staged at the New National Theater, Tokyo, for the first time.

Based on Czech fairy tales and containing some elements of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” the story tells of a doomed love between a prince and a rusalka, a water sprite of Slavic mythology that is similar to a mermaid. Unlike the mermaid, however, the rusalka surfaces from the bottom of a waterway at night to dance and can lead fascinated men to their watery graves.

One of the highlights of the opera is the rusalka character’s wistful aria “Song to the Moon,” which exemplifies Dvorak’s signature emphasis on melody.

The upcoming production was first performed in 2009 by the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo. Directed by Briton Paul Curran, the fairy tale-like story unfolded in the form of coming-of-age tale of a sensitive young girl, garnering positive reviews from old and young alike.

Curran and his colleagues will bring the story’s mystic forest and lake to the stage at the NTTT, with Russian soprano Olga Guryakova in the title role and under the baton of Czech conductor Jaroslav Kyzlink.

“Rusalka” will be staged at the New National Theater, Tokyo, in Shibuya-ku. Hatsudai on Nov. 23, 26, 29, Dec. 3 and 6, starting at 2 p.m. (Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.) Tickets cost ¥1,500-¥23,100. Call the NNTT Box Office at (03) 5352-9999 or visit www.nntt.jac.go.jp/opera.