Lyric fairytale in three acts

Composer Antonín Dvorák · Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil
In Czech language with German surtitles

Friday, 09. November 2012
07:00 pm – 10:20 pm

Duration est. 3 hours 20 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. + 2. Akt and 3. Akt (est. 08:50 pm - 09:20 pm )

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Musikalische Leitung
Mikhail Tatarnikov
Martin Kušej
Martin Zehetgruber
Heidi Hackl
Reinhard Traub
Sören Eckhoff
Olaf A. Schmitt

Der Prinz
Piotr Beczala
Die fremde Fürstin
Heike Grötzinger
Ana María Martínez
Der Wassermann
Günther Groissböck
Die Hexe
Birgit Remmert
Der Förster
Ulrich Reß
Der Küchenjunge
Iulia Maria Dan
1. Waldnymphe
Laura Tatulescu
2. Waldnymphe
Angela Brower
3. Waldnymphe
Okka von der Damerau
Ein Jäger
Tim Kuypers
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
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Rusalka feels trapped in a world from which there is no escape. She is ready to put her immortality on the line in return for a human soul, so she can gain the love of a handsome prince. But she must pay for it with her voice. Muted and liberated from her dark world, she is forced to watch as the prince rejects her in favor of a foreign princess – dooming them both. She cannot live, she cannot die, yet nevertheless at the end, she helps the prince find his death with a “rescuing” kiss. 

In their opera Rusalka, which premièred in 1901, Antonin Dvořák and his librettist Jaroslav Kvapil mixed the Slavic myth of the undead vengeful woman from the water with such storybook characters as Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine and Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. The fascinating musical worlds, the lyrical and highly dramatic moments came together to make Rusalka one of the most successful Czech operas ever written.


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The characters in Antonin Dvořák’s opera do not have names, they are referred to by their nature or what they do. Only Rusalka (the water nymph) and Ježibaba (the witch) have retained their Czech names in the German version.

Act One

Three wood nymphs are teasing the Water goblin, who tries to catch one of them. Rusalka, on the other hand, longs to escape from the watery element in which she lives and have a soul in order to be able to experience love for a human being. Not even the warnings of the Water goblin can change her mind. She begs the Ježibaba to grant her human attributes. In return Rusalka will lose the ability to speak. If she should fail to win the love of a human both she and her lover will be damned for ever by the curse of the watery powers.

Out hunting, the Prince follows the tracks of a white deer and comes across Rusalka. He is fascinated by her and takes her home with him to his palace.

Act  Two

Preparations are being made for a ball and in the course of these the Gamekeeper learns from the Turnspit that the Prince intends to marry the “strange being” which he had brought home from the woods a week earlier. The Prince reproaches Rusalka for her silence and lack of warmth. The Foreign Princess admonishes the Prince, telling him that he should be looking after his guests. Rusalka sees the two of them leaving together and remains on her own. The Water goblin has visited Rusalka and bemoans her fate. While he is there she gets her voice back and sees herself as a captive between life and death.
The Foreign Princess has won the Prince’s heart and he casts Rusalka aside. The voice of the Water goblin threatens that he will never be able to leave her embrace.

Act Three

In her despair Rusalka again seeks help from the Ježibaba, who tells her that only the shedding of the blood of her seducer can redeem her from the curse and allow her to return to the watery element. Rusalka, however, refuses to take the knife that is off ered to her and the water nymphs then cast her out. The Gamekeeper and the Turnspit come to ask the Ježibaba for advice about the confused Prince. When they maintain that Rusalka is responsible for his condition the Water goblin reminds them that the Prince jilted her and swears he will be revenged.

The Water goblin reminds the wood nymphs of Rusalka’s melancholy fate. The Prince seeks his jilted lover in despair and begs her for the kiss which will end his life. Rusalka begs for mercy for his soul.

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Mikhail Tatarnikov studierte am Sankt Petersburger Konservatorium Musik. Dort ist er musikalischer Leiter des Mikhailkovsky Theaters, wo er u.a. La traviata, Tosca und Cavalleria rusticana dirigierte. Auch am Mariinsky Theater in Sankt Petersburg übernahm er die musikalische Leitung zahlreicher Opern wie Die Zauberflöte, Elektra und Les Contes dʼHoffmann. Er gastierte u.a. an den Opernhäusern in Bordeaux, Riga und Berlin, assistierte Valery Gergiev bei der Produktion des Ring des Nibelungen an der Metropolitan Opera in New York und arbeitete mit Orchestern wie dem Russian National Orchestra und dem Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Dirigat an der Bayerischen Staatsoper 2012/13: Rusalka.

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