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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2010
I feel that I must write something in defence of this production as the first review seems to be wholly unaware of what is going on. This production of Rusalka was a runnaway success when it was first staged in London by English National Opera in the mid 1980s. The cast here in the video is substantially as it was with the exception of Ann Howard who replaces the original Sarah Walker as Jezibaba. The singing is very strong from all members though I have trouble with John Treleaven as the Prince who was decidedly light-weight and not always on key. Visually it is a treat in white and the setting will leave you thoughtful for sometime. Regrettably I cannot comment on the DVD quality itself as I have not seen it, but my purpose of writing was to right the wrong of the first review. Do give it a try you will just fall in love with the music which is main thing!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2012
Rusalka is the sad tale of a water nymph who falls in love with a human. She enlists the help of Jezibaba the local witch who grants her request to become human but deprives her of speech. Prince meets sprite and they fall in love. With no conversation prince finds princess and abandons Rusalka. Eventually there is a reconciliation, but owing to a clause in the agreement prince has to die.
The quality of the singing is universally good. The three water nymhs produce some thrilling sounds. Rodney Macann as water sprite is richly toned. Eileen Hannan is absolutely beautiful in voice and in her physical interpretation. Ann Howard is a forcefull and threatening Jezibaba, the brewing music and staging are most entertaining. John Treleaven has a very pleasing voice and looks every inch a prince. Phyllis Cannon I find overpowering in voice but she acts the part well.
Booth-Jones is a good huntsman and Fiona Kimm is brilliant as the kitchen boy.
The orchestra makes a fine job of the impassioned music.
Here is my problem, the forest is a room with a water hole in the floor. The water sprite rolls around in a wheelchair. The woodnymphs have beds in the corner and have nighties on and nursery toys. Rusalka sits part of the time on a swing. I can see perhaps why she has her legs tied together until she becomes human. The princes palace is a revolving glass room. The forester and kitchen boy are assisted by dancing flour bags and both seem covered in flour.
The production is sung with english libretto which is O.K. but but does at times seem repetetive. The singers also have to do some dragging and acceleration of the text in places, I would have preferred the original libretto with subtitles.
With that off my chest, it is still amongst my most played DVDs.
Added note, this review is for the Eileen Hannon version, but does seem to attached to Renee Fleming as well. I have also added the film version to my library
I prefer it to the Hannon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2013
I saw this production live at ENO many years ago so this DVD brought back many good memories. Its true that film cannot reproduce the live experience - I remember being enchanted when the floorboards of the nursery slid back to reveal the lake below, bouncing dancing reflections off the walls and you don't really get that effect here but, on the whole this is still a remarkable production. Rusalka's innocence and naivety are shown in the form of a young girl's first infatuation as she outgrows her strict Victorian nursery upbringing and longs to be an adult. Of course she's not ready and the thoughtless cruelty of the adult world all but destroys her. The first two acts of the production are truly outstanding although, I must admit, by the third they seem to have run out of ideas and its rather less interesting. My favourite is the second act where Rusalka is effectively isolated in a glass cube (although others do occasionally invade her space) like some kind of specimen or wild animal to be a source of curiosity and amusement for the visiting guests. The Foreign Princess is like some kind of cruel Persian cat stalking a canary in a cage and the courtiers - and even the children - aren't much better!

The orchestral playing of this beautiful score is outstanding. The cast are pretty good on the whole but I do find the English translation a little clumsy and it doesn't flow as well as the original Czech. Eilene Hannan acts the title role very well and generally sings it well too but she doesn't always hit the notes and she does sound a bit stretched at times. John Treleaven offers much the same experience in the ungrateful role of the Prince. The dryads blend well, Fiona Kimm is terrific as the Turnspit and I liked Norman Bailey's Water Sprite. Probably my favourite performances though are Ann Howard as Jezibaba, who camps it up enormously and is every inch the wicked witch albeit in buttoned up Victoriana AND Phyllis Canaan who is a very predatory Foreign Princess, almost unreal like some exotic flower in human form.

Overall, great stuff and highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
I have just finished watching this wonderful production of Dvorak's masterpiece "Rusalka" from 1986 by the English National Opera. Where do I begin? It is a triumph from beginning to end!

The casting is flawless, and it is difficult to single people out. Edward Byles as the Gamekeeper and Fiona Kimm as the Kitchen Boy both deliver the goods throughout their relatively small roles. The three Wood Nymphs, sung by Cathryn Pope, Eileen Hulse and Linda McLeod, all sing beautifully, particularly in their ensembles (the blending from them is gorgeous). Phyllis Cannan as the Foreign Princess has a lovely, fruity mezzo with the power required in the more dramatic writing for her. Ann Howard is superb as Jezibaba and seems to really relish the evilness of her character, while Rodney Macann as the Wood Sprite has a gorgeous tone and rises to the dramatic challenges very well indeed. John Treleaven as the Prince has a ringing, heroic tenor, and he is suitably handsome to be completely believable in the part. This leaves Eilene Hannan's Rusalka. She sings beautifully throughout, but I feel the real strength in her portrayal is her flawless acting. She truly is Rusalka, and I was weeping by the end of Act Three.

The production won't appeal to everyone, but I love it! It was done during a golden time at the ENO in London when everything they touched seemed to be gilded with gold. It is very Freudian and points out the pitfalls which may occur during an ill-advised first love. The costumes are, I think, Victorian in design, with the sets matching these (including a children's nursery for Act One). The dvd picture and sound quality are excellent, with subtitles in several languages including English (even though it is sung in English the subtitles do help a lot). The whole thing is beautifully filmed, the the dvd is Region 0 (so it will play anywhere).

I would recommend any lover of Romantic opera in general and Dvorak in particular to invest in this dvd. As I've already stated it is not a traditional production, but I don't think you will be disappointed.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2013
I bought this to watch with a friend who is unfamiliar with the opera. It is sung in English, though 90% of what is sung is incomprehensible, and there are no subtitles. Neither the principal soprano (Eilene Hannan) nor the tenor(John Treleaven) is up to the demands of the score. As far as I can tell, the orchestra plays well under Mark Elder, but, when accompanying the singers or chorus, its sound is "potted". The audience (this is apparently a 'live' performance, though this is not stated anywhere on the box or the inadequate insert)is not intrusive, except in end-of-act applause. The production is peculiar - set in a bedroom with an irregularly shaped pond in the middle. What a mess. Give it is miss! Incidentally, my friend who once worked for ENO, ended up with pretty well no idea of what had taken place!
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2 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2003
This is the only version of Rusalka I have ever been able to see. The story its self is very strange. Its about a water Nymph named Rusalka who longs to be human because is in love with a human prince who she has often seen swim in her lake. Her wish is granted and she lives in the castle of the prince who is really a weak person. The singing isn't too bad. Unfortunatly, its sung in English instead of the original Czeck and hard to understand. The costumes and sets are rather unique. Its hard to tell where things are supposed to take place.
Here are some other titles that other opera lovers will probably enjoy.
Mozart's The Magic Flute (Drottningholm Slottsteater Ann Christine Biel and Stefan Dahlberg)
Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (Drottningholm Slottsteater Mikael Samualsson and Per-Arne Wahlgren)
La Cenerentola ( Huston Grand Opera Cecilia Bartoli and Raul Gimenez)
Boris Godunov (At the Bolshi Theater)
Aida (Deutsche Grammophon)
The Barber of Seville ( Deutsche Grammophon)
Lucia di Lamermoor (Joan Sutherland)
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