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As her love interest, the Prince, Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts lacked the ideal heroic physique. He is a bulky man but this height and bulk were an advantage in the role as they emphasised Duprels' slight physique. Lloyd Roberts, though, sang the role in a princely manner. His voice is not a well upholstered Italianate one; instead he gave us burnished steel, tirelessly ringing out Dvorák's vocal lines with open tone and good line. He made us believe that the Prince was in love, befuddled by both love and magic. He and Duprels created a touching, believable couple.
As Jezibaba, the witch who enables Rusalka to change, Anne-Marie Owens made a stylish and forbidding figure. With the help of McDonald and his associated costume designer, Gabrielle Dalton, Owens made Rusalka a chilling but stylish figure with an element of Cruella de Vil to her make-up. She was definitely no cartoon ugly witch, but fearsome nonetheless. She seemed to take grim relish in the difficulties that Rusalka had moving about on land. With her famously warm tones, Anne-Marie Owens sang Jezibaba's music attractively and stylishly whilst relishing the rather gruesome business which McDonald gave her. Rusalka's change was effected with the help not only of a potion but with a meat cleaver. Afterwards Rusalka had bloody scars running up her legs and Jezibaba grimly relished pouring the bloody remains into the lake.
McDonald re-iterated this bloody image in Act 2. During the first scene, when James McOran-Campbell's handsome gamekeeper was gossiping with Arlene Rolph's sparky kitchen hand, two other characters gutted and filleted a pair of fish on stage. Then, during the ball scene, which McDonald set as a dinner party, a huge fish was served and dissected for the guests.
Copyright © 25 June 2008
Robert Hugill, London UK