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RODERIC DUNNETT at Stowe Opera's 'Rusalka'


Like Glyndebourne, Grange Park and Garsington, Stowe is one of the major operatic delights of England's summer festival season. Staged indoors in the Roxburgh Theatre, adjoining the Capability Brown landscape gardens (a must for any U S or overseas visitor), Stowe has fielded major productions of German, Russian and Italian opera with an equal sureness of touch.

Most recently, Stowe's ever-considerate conductor, Robert Secret, and his stage director Robin Martin-Oliver (director of Opera Fiesta) served up a Trovatore (with the resilient Fiona Kimm as the gypsy Azucena) more cogent than ENO's latest offering, plus a passionate Onegin (with Robert Poulton in the title role).

Rusalka (Jayne Watson) and the Water Goblin (Julian Close) in Robin Martin Oliver's new production for Stowe Opera of Dvorák's 'Rusalka', designed by Ian McKillop. © John Credland LBIPP 2001

Their newest offering, Rusalka (l901), is the most justly renowned of Dvorák's ten or so operas (though Stowe should try Vanda or Dimitrij sometime) : a masterpiece from start to finish, founded (in the manner of Dvorák's 1890s symphonic poems) on a distinctly Czech version of a well-known folk-legend : the Undine or Ondine story -- romanticised by de la Motte-Fouqué, put onstage by Giraudoux, and explored by numerous composers, from E T A Hoffmann and the scarcely-remembered Karl Girschner to Lortzing, Dargomizhky and Hans Werner Henze.

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Copyright © 7 August 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK





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