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Some Beautiful Singing

Dvorák's 'Rusalka' at the Prague State Opera,
reviewed by KAREN HAID


Prague offers listeners a wide range of musical choices in an impressive array of venues. Additionally, tourist concerts are hawked on every street corner in the historic area, and visitors eagerly buy into these easy-listening programs consisting of familiar works by Vivaldi, a token Czech composer, and Mozart, whose association with the city is proudly proclaimed at every opportunity. On my latest Central European sojourn, however, I decided to leave Mozart to the Salzburgers and to try and absorb the Czech spirit beyond Smetana's 'Moldau'. On 28 September 2007 the program of the Prague State Opera supplied what I was looking for with a performance of Antonin Dvorák's Rusalka. Having struggled over the previous few days to eke out a 'good day' or 'thank you' in the difficult Slavic language, I would at least be guaranteed a minimum of accurate pronunciation from the all-Czech cast.

Tickets were easily obtainable on the day of the performance and there were subsequently many empty seats throughout the house. Perhaps their national holiday honoring Good King Wenceles was traditionally celebrated in other ways, or maybe the Czechs prefer Verdi and Mozart. Nevertheless, at precisely 7pm the lights in the gilded nineteenth-century hall dimmed and I was ushered into the atmospheric fairy tale by the play of water projected on the theater's scrim.

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Copyright © 18 October 2007 Karen Haid, Las Vegas, USA


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