A water nimph yearning for the love of a human


Antonín Dvořák, De Nationale Opera

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A water nymph falls in love with a prince and wants to become human. She’s even willing to give up her voice, hoping to get closer to him. For his enchanting 1901 opera Rusalka, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák was inspired by the Germanic folk tale of Undine, also the inspiration behind Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. His composition is poetic and sensual –  melancholy melodies with Rusalka’s Song to the Moon as the opera’s highlight. With Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša leading the Concertgebouworkest and in a staging by German director Philipp Stölzl, the role of Rusalka is sung by soprano Eleanora Buratto. American tenor Brian Jagde is the prince. A timeless fairy tale about dreams, loneliness and the desperate yearning for wholeness.

background information

act 1

The water nymph Rusalka has fallen in love with the prince, and wants to become a (mortal) human herself so that she can live with him on land. 

Disregarding the warning from her father, the water spirit Vodník, that people are evil and sinful, she invokes the witch Ježibaba. The witch is willing to change Rusalka into a human, but on one condition: if the prince does not return her love, she will be cursed forever and the prince will die. The transformation will also take away her power of speech. Rusalka is so convinced of her love that she consents. The next day the prince finds her by the lake. Entranced by her beauty, he takes her back to his castle.


act 2

Every bit of the castle is being prepared for the upcoming wedding of the prince and his mysterious, silent bride. He interprets her silence as aloofness, but keeps trying to win her over. One of the wedding guests, the Foreign Princess, curses Rusalka and the prince. Rusalka flees to her father and begs him for help. In the meantime, the prince declares his love for the Foreign Princess in the castle garden. Rusalka tries to intervene, but the prince sends her away. Rusalka’s father warns the prince of the fate that awaits him, and disappears with his daughter into the water. The Foreign Princess rejects the prince.


act 3

Rusalka is desperate. Ježibaba tells her that she can still save herself by killing the prince, and gives her a dagger, which Rusalka throws into the water. When her sisters reject her as well, she sinks into the watery depths. The prince, desperate and sorrowful, appears on the coast, looking for Rusalka. She emerges from the water but rejects his advances, explaining that a kiss from her would mean his death. The prince acquiesces to his fate and asks her to kiss him. She does, and the prince dies in her arms. Rusalka forgives him and returns to the water.



Antonin Dvořák (1841 -1904) was a Czech composer. His music bridged the gap between several different worlds; he allowed local and folk elements to mingle with the Western symphonic tradition. 

A violist and organist as well, Dvorák became one of Europe’s most important composers. His best-known works are his Stabat Mater, Columbian Te Deum and Requiem. He also wrote chamber music, Slavonic dances, a cello concerto, symphonies and over 100 songs. He eventually became the director of the conservatory in New York, a job he combined with conducting and writing new pieces. His opera Rusalka was published in 1900, and became an international favourite.


The Dutch National Opera (DNO) is known for its wide range of programming of both classical and modern operas and for the consistently high level of its performances. It is keeping this wonderful art form alive and lively,s and ensuring it has a place in the future through its innovative productions, new works specially composed for DNO and updated productions of familiar repertoire. The DNO has acquired a place of importance in the international opera world and works with some of the world’s greatest opera houses. In 2016, DNO was named the Opera House of the Year at the International Opera Awards.


Jakub Hrůša (1981) is a Czech conductor and one of the world’s greatest specialists in the Czech repertoire. He made his Netherlands debut in 2015 conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in works by Shostakovich, Janáček and Smetana. Jakub Hrůša is chief conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker, permanent guest conductor with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and principal guest conductor with both the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. From 2009 to 2015 he was music director of the Prague Chamber Philharmonic. Hrůša is a frequent guest at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where he has conducted Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Puccini's La Bohème. With Rusalka, Hrůša is making his DNO debut.



Antonín Dvořák
Jaroslav Kvapil
musical direction
Jakub Hrůša
Philipp Stölzl
Philipp Stölzl, Heike Vollmer
Anke Winckler
Philipp Stölzl
Simon Berger
Koor van De Nationale Opera
chorus master
Ching-Lien Wu
Brian Jagde (Prins), Elena Zhidkova (Vreemde Prinses), Eleonora Buratto (Rusalka), Dmitry Ivashchenko (Vodník), Anna Larsson (Ježibaba) Frederik Bergman (Jachtopziener), Karin Strobos (Braadspitdraaier), Mark Omvlee (Jager), Lilian Farahani, Rosanne van Sandwijk, Alyona Abramova (Drie nimfen)

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