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  • Dvorak - Rusalka / Elder, Hannan, Treleaven, English National Opera
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Dvorak - Rusalka / Elder, Hannan, Treleaven, English National Opera


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dvorak's three-act opera is based on two fairy tales and tells the story of a water-nymph, Rusalka, yearning to become human because she has fallen in love with a mortal.

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Dvorák's fairytale fantasy about a water nymph who falls in love with a mortal prince and becomes an unhappy human has done well in Czech opera houses but not (until now) with English-speaking audiences. This 1986 production, sung in English, takes liberties with the plot but does justice to the exquisite music. The recording's beauty and emotional impact justify David Poultney's daring, highly symbolic treatment of the story. There is no other opera video remotely like this one.

Instead of a lake, the scene is set in a Victorian nursery with toys and a swing. Rusalka is not a water nymph but a girl on the brink of womanhood, whose pain and ecstasy match those in the fairytale. The story, with its elements of witchcraft, becomes her dream. It works on all levels. The singing and acting are uniformly good, and the staging is both fascinating and evocative. --Joe McLellan


Special Features

  • Sung in English

Product Details

  • Actors: Eilene Hannan, John Treleaven, Rodney Macann, Ann Howard, Phyllis Cannan
  • Directors: Derek Bailey
  • Writers: Jaroslav Kvapil, Rodney Blumer
  • Producers: John Lloyd-Davies, Robin Scott, Sally Day
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 11, 2002
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000687E9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,675 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dvorak - Rusalka / Elder, Hannan, Treleaven, English National Opera" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

The color is reasonable.
David Smith
I can't imagine what was in the mind of the stager who so distorted this beautiful opera.
Don Fetterman
The story interprets the staging, not the other way around.
D. Layman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By D. Layman on January 20, 2004
Format: DVD
I concur with the negative opinions already expressed.
First the positives: beautiful music, Wagnerian with a lyrical twist.
The negatives: first off: maybe I'm spoiled, but in this day there is no reason for an opera DVD NOT to have subtitles (I hope the double negative makes sense). The fact that it is sung in English is no excuse, especially when Rusalka or the Princess is going full-bore in some big ensemble. (Loud sopranos are more difficult to understand than loud male voices.) I understood maybe one-third of the libretto. Given the heavy reinterpretation given this staging, the listener needs all the clues he/she can have. Fortunately, the Met Opera web site had a synopsis that filled in some holes. That's one star off there.
Secondly, the production makes hash of the story. While some of the negative comments of one of my fellow reviewers seems to me to be nitpicking, the general thrust seems to be valid: there is no way to integrate the story, what you see on stage, and what you hear.
In the first place, if I hadn't read the blurb on the DVD case (one or two sentences long) outlining the Freudian interpretation, there is no way to see it in the staging. The story interprets the staging, not the other way around.
In the second place, based on this Freudian view, the ending makes no sense. Are we to believe that Rusalka should have never grown up? Or, are we to say that all men are jerks, all women are ..., and that "coming of age" sexually will transform women into demonic seductresses who will inevitably kill men? Huh????!!!
That leads to my third criticism of the staging: a fairy story only works AS A FAIRY STORY. Since Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) is all the rage right now (January 2004), let me invoke him: to allegorize a fairy tale is to kill it.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By artslover on September 24, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This opera video is well-done in every respect, but it's not what I expected, so let me share my experience with you. The director, David Pountney, interprets the traditional "Little Mermaid" fairy tale in a Freudian vein: Here, Rusalka is a young girl on the threshold of sexual maturity who longs to be an adult -- and longs for her Prince. In her imagination, her sisters become the water-nymphs, her Grandfather is the Spririt of the Waters, and so on. Not exactly the traditional production of this opera, but it's very well-done, and the singing is excellent (not outstanding, but excellent). If you're an opera buff, you'll probably enjoy it anyway. Please know, however, that this opera is sung in English rather than Czech; naturally, there are no subtitles. Why, oh why, did they spoil the libretto and the arias that are part of our canon? I guess I can appreciate the artistic setting, but I'm a purist when it comes to the composer's music, and in opera, that includes the human instrument.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Murray on July 12, 2004
Format: DVD
Performance was not bad, but why in the world go to the trouble of translating the libretto into English? I didn't understand much more than if it had been in Czech with NO subtitles. Putting it in English also distorts Dvorak's musical phrasing. I guess I missed the small print on this one.... if I had known there were no subtitles I would not have purchased it and I'm sure Amazon won't take it back for that reason.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Harbison on June 12, 2005
Format: DVD
Yes, as everyone else says this is not the quaint fairy tale that Dvorak envisioned (and it is sung in sometimes garbled English), but it is an original and terribly moving evocation of a similar story--an unusual, different sort of being (a wood nymph in the original, here a young adolescent) who longs for a perfect, "normal" relationship and is left tragically betrayed and alone, if loved very briefly. The staging is starkly modern and at the same time Victorian (it makes Robert Carsen's Paris production with Fleming look very derivative); the singing is always heartfelt and impressive, although Rusalka (Hannan) has a few weak moments especially in act 2. The orchestral sound is generally good although the winds are at times strangely wobbly. But the final effect of this version of a quintessential romantic score is a revelation of deep human meaning that most traditional productions have not touched (including the Met one). Beautifully filmed.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By operafan on December 16, 2002
Format: DVD
Let me start by saying that I have never seen any performances of Rusalka besides this one. Maybe if I had seen a normal performance before this one, I might enjoy it more. I doubt it though. There are many things that just are done poorly. As said before this is an interpretive production. The interpretation does nothing but confuse me. I never know where any of the scenes are taking place. The scenery is all pretty much the same, except for certain objects on stage that are supposed to create different settings for the different scenes. Most of the scenes have very little scenerey, making this production incredibly boring, seeing a huge stage with harly anything filling it up. The first scene appears to take place in a nursery, but there is a big hole in the floor with a pond underneath. Isn't the nursery supposed to represent the life under the lake? If so why is there a lake/pond in the middle of the floor? Aren't they already "underwater." Why does Rusalka sing "Song to the Moon" with her back to the moon? In the second act, there is a glass cube witha single bed in it. I guess this is a bedroom. Whose bedroom is it? How come when the prince is supposed to straddle Rusalka and choke her it looks like he is so weak that he would be incapable of choking a small animal? Why is the glass bedroom right in the middle of the ballroom during the dance scene? Why is there a backdrop of the sky during the ballroom scene? Those are just some questions that occur to me when I watch this performance. As said before, this is an English translation of the Czech libretto, and it is pretty obvious. The text just doesn't fit well with the music at all. There are also no subtitles to help with the parts that are difficult to hear, which are many. The sound is also very shaky.Read more ›
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Dvorak - Rusalka / Elder, Hannan, Treleaven, English National Opera
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