Opera Scotland

Rusalka 1964National Theatre, Prague

Read more about the opera Rusalka

The Edinburgh Festival, at this time under the direction of Lord Harewood, was exploring the operatic possibilities behind the Iron Curtain. 1962 had seen the leading company from Yugoslavia in a repertoire largely of Russian masterpieces. In 1963 the Hungarian State Opera and Ballet appeared with a more limited choice of works. Here, the National Theatre from Prague brought an inspiring clutch of five Czech pieces. Two of them, Rusalka and Kátya Kabanová, were receiving Scottish premieres. The other three, Dalibor, From the House of the Dead and Resurrection, were being seen for the first time in the UK.

Of the five works brought to Edinburgh by the Czechs on their 1964 visit, Rusalka was quite understandably expected to be the most popular, following the great success of Joan Hammond's recording of 'O Silver Moon' and her subsequent 1959 Sadler's Wells performances with Charles Craig. Sadly, Sadler's Wells never brought their production to Scotland.

Five performances were scheduled by the Czechs over the three weeks of the Festival. The various casts were uniformly excellent, but we have had to wait over fifty years for another performance in Scotland.

The Czech production team was also responsible for staging a rather different work, in Smetana's Dalibor, seen again in 1970, when their reading of The Makropulos Case also appeared. By this time they were known internationally, and Covent Garden mounted their productions of Pelléas et Melisande and Nabucco. Svoboda went on to design a spectacular set for the Royal Opera's Ring, directed by Götz Friedrich.

There is a Czech recording of Rusalka made as long ago as 1952, though made available on CD in perfectly acceptable sound. Several of the singers sang their roles in Edinburgh, including Beno Blachut, Eduard Haken, Marta Krásová and Jiří Joran. It is beautifully conducted by Jaroslav Kromholc, who was in charge of other works on the Edinburgh visit.

Performance Cast

First Dryad

Sylvia Kodetová

Second Dryad

Miloslava Fidlerová

Third Dryad

Ivana Mixová

Vodník a water goblin, Rusalka's father

Eduard Haken (Exc Aug 21)

Karel Berman (Aug 21)

Rusalka a naiad, daughter of the water goblin

Milada Šubrtová (Aug 19, 25, 29)

Libuše Domanínská (Aug 21, 31)

Ježibaba a witch

Jaroslava Dobrá (Aug 19, 29)

Jaroslava Procházková (Aug 21, 25)

Marta Krásová (Aug 31)

Huntsman Lovec

Václav Bednář (Aug 19, 25, 31)

Přemysl Kočí (Aug 21)

Teodor Šrubař (Aug 29)


Ivo Žídek (Exc Aug 25)

Beno Blachut (Aug 25)

Gamekeeper Hajný

Jiří Joran (Aug 19, 21, 31)

Antonín Votava (Aug 25, 29)

Kitchen Boy Kuchtík

Helena Tattermuschová

Foreign Princess

Libuše Prylová (Aug 19, 25, 31)

Nadĕžda Kniplová (Aug 21, 29)

Performance DatesRusalka 1964

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Aug, 19.00 21 Aug, 19.00 25 Aug, 19.00 29 Aug, 19.00 31 Aug, 19.00

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