- Elizabeth Whitehouse (Soprano)
- Anne-Marie Owens (Mezzo-soprano)
- Dominica Matthews
- Sian Pendry
- Barry Ryan (Voice)
- Bruce Martin (Bass)
- Rosario Spina
- Sarah Crane
- Taryn Fiebig
- Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Notes & Reviews:
Chandos recorded the performances live and here releases the opera on a 3-CD set. Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's fairy-tale The Little Mermaid, Rusalka tells of a water-spirit who falls in love with a prince. Enlisting the help of a witch, Rusalka becomes human so as to marry him. By the time Dvorak came to write Rusalka, he was an experienced opera composer with nine works to his credit; Rusalka was to be his last and is now a seasoned favorite. Part of the secret of the score's magic lies in the instrumental colouring. Dvorak was always inspired in his handling of the orchestra, but in Rusalka he reaches new heights of expressive scene painting. In the hands of Richard Hickox these elements are skillfully realized.
BBC Music Magazine
Hickox conducts with real theatrical warmth...
As music director of Opera Australia... Richard Hickox... has made a bold choice in Dvorák's last and greatest opera, Rusalka, when there is a near-definitive version available on Decca with a mainly Czech cast and the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Cheryl Baker may not have so creamily beautiful a voice as Renée Fleming but she sounds more aptly girlish and fresh. Tenor Rosario La Spina as the Prince is younger-sounding, more virile and more expressive than the Heldentenor Ben Heppner on decca. As for Hickox, he conducts this magical score with a bite that brings out the elements so closely related to the Salvonic Dances. A final choice must remain marginal, but anyone who wants a new-minted version of one of the most magical of all operas... more atmospherically recorded than on Decca - this new Chandos version makes an excellent choice.
It is hard to imagine anyone doing the title role better
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Richard Hickox has made a bold choice in Dvorák's last and greatest opera, Rusalka, when there is a near-definitive version available on Decca with a mainly Czech cast and the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras (see above). Yet even in face of such competition there is a strong case for his new version from Chandos.
Cheryl Barker may not have so creamily beautiful a voice as Renée Fleming but she sounds more aptly girlish and fresh. Her big Act 1 solo, the Invocation to the Moon, flows far more easily than in Fleming's very beautiful but very expansive version, an obvious advantage.
Tenor Rosario La Spina as the Prince is younger-sounding, more virile and more expressive than the Heldentenor Ben Heppner on Decca. As for Hickox, he conducts this magical score with a bite that brings out the elements so closely related to the SlavonicDances, and the recording, made live in the Sydney Opera House (a difficult venue), is clean and fresh.
The Australian cast, singing in Czech, sounds totally in tune with the Dvorák idiom, with each singer matching up to his or her Decca counterpart.
Bruce Martin as the Water Goblin may not have so rich or well focused a voice as Franz Hawlata on Decca, but his is a strong and characterful performance, and as the witch JeOibaba, Anne-Marie Owens is satisfyingly rich and fruity, where her Decca counterpart is relatively thin-toned.
There is also a gain in that this has been recorded live from a stage production, notably in the thrilling conclusion of the Second Act.
Surprisingly, Renée Fleming in Act 2 is less assured than in the other acts, while Cheryl Barker is consistent throughout, and her performance culminates in a deeply moving account of Rusalka's final solo, with a thrilling build-up.
A final choice must remain marginal, but anyone who wants a new-minted version of one of the most magical of all operas - with the harp signalling the other-worldly magic of Rusalka as Water Nymph, more atmospherically recorded than on Decca - this new Chandos version makes an excellent choice.
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Works DetailsDvorak, Antonin : Rusalka
- Performers: Elizabeth Whitehouse (Soprano); Anne-Marie Owens (Mezzo-soprano); Dominica Matthews; Sian Pendry; Barry Ryan (Voice); Bruce Martin (Bass); Rosario Spina; Sarah Crane; Taryn Fiebig; Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
- Conductor: Richard Hickox
- Ensemble: Australian Opera Chorus
- Notes: Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (03/21/2007-03/29/2007)
- Running Time: 17 min. 38 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Studio/Live: Live