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).
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.
Copyright © 7 August 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
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