The Brussels 2012 “Rusalka” Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Dvořák‘s “Rusalka” (2012) from La Monnaie Brussels, staged by Stefan Herheim, with Ádám Fischer  conducting the Monnaie orchestra and chorus.

Cast Listing:
Myrtò Papatanasiu – Rusalka
Pavel Cernoch – The Prince
Annalena Persson – The Foreign Princess
Willard White – Vodnik
Renée Morloc – Ježibaba
Ekaterina Isachenko, Youghee Kim, Nona Javakhidze – Wood Nymphs
Julian Hubbard – Hunter; Priest
André Grégoire – Butcher
Marc Coulon – Police Officer

The production is out on DVD, but does also float around in a small-size online safety copy. Let us know if you need assistance in case you are finding yourself out of a copy tonight.

Libretto: German, English and Czech (all html) – Let the regie begin!

245 thoughts on “The Brussels 2012 “Rusalka” Liveblogging Thread”

          1. I only remembered I got my copy through a link from you – emailed you about 10 minutes ago with Ed’s details, in case you still have the link (otherwise, Ed will put on the Munich 2010 and play parallel universe).
            I would have uploaded mine to DB, but it’s 1,8, and it would have taken more that the 2 hours a my disposal.

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            1. there goes the big hit, early in Act I.

              – oh the “as if handling water” motions. good detail.

              I am amazed how well the romantic score (and it’s usually done for the schmaltz) works with this cool and questioning staging.

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            2. well, the perfectly still, seamline surface of a lake is not our main focus. it’s always the ripples, and the currents below.
              (I blame the water metaphors on the subject matter of the evening)

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            3. in the end, the worlds align. 🙂
              (I just had a part in a paper on using motions/gestures to create body tension that enables performing work…)

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            4. well, the Herheim is also creepy, in a way, but so very smart. Which I recognize is also because I may stem from a similar context, but I really enjoy his commentary and dissection of it.

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            5. Isn’t it? I mean I know that we drink that stuff up because we are wired and taught that way – discourse and deconstruction. And I can understand that’s may look overwrought or self-indulgent or purposefully high-brow to others, but as someone for whom this works, I really enjoy it.

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  1. Hello there, hope you have fun! I’m just dropping by though, for me it’s more recalling holiday adventures and nursing aches from backcountry tour tonight (I swear I’ll do much more workout before ski trip next year).

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            1. well, the costume is a great commentary on the role – with the sparkle and the boots as ‘Meermaidish’, and the little quote in the handbag. But I probably wouldn’t request a poster print.

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            2. oh, harsh commentary – he’s the abuser from the beginning and can’t break from the pattern, and the MRs. in red enables him in throwing him the keys back down when he hits the streetwalker.

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        1. well, it’s really intriguing regie, though a little heavy on the Freud. (and MP in this one, it’s one to watch for her abilities, and not for the costume aesthetics)

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  2. So this is a commentary on being socialized through milk shakes and eroticizing mother/aunt figures?
    (much more fun trying to guess the Herheim than to read to the liner notes first)

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          1. I’m already losing count of layers in the best way – who is a double/age double of whom, mirrored poses, the comments like the crazy flickering ‘Lunatic’, or the mimicking of the poster pose…

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  3. really enjoying her top notes here – jubilant. Not really that voluminous, but with more drive than sheer lyric (I remember Benackova and Fleming and Orgonasova in this)

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        1. and the bird’s view camera!
          And him watching her, and the Mrs. dragging him away from the window!

          But yes, the sheer singing is pretty great in itself.

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          1. now i remember.. Dehggi translated for me.. from her interview w/ Opera Garnier, she said she’s afraid of height and there’s a staging where they put her very high up, this might be it.

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            1. or too smooth, or smooth to be smooth and nothing else… she is not the kind of lyric that’s like bottled baileys, not 100% pretty sound (and I don’t think her material allows for that kind of ‘perfect surface’, but it also is my impression, after seeing more than a bit of her work now, that that would not be her intent even if she could produce that)

              that fishtail tornado, man, that is a great image.

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    1. more lovely pull backs just before pointing the finger up toward the balcony. I have to admit i didn’t pay attention to her mastery of techniques until Vienna. I always knew she could pull it where she wants.. but just thought that came with thoughtful phrasing. the trick is also to have technique to pull it off.

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  4. also, was that a wig atop a wig on Rusalka? (because that is not MP’s hair, is it?) – talk about sweating buckets. Really demanding show in many aspects, it seems.

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  5. oh, so the boy on the floor half intimidated by the mother figures, half gazing up their skirts is definitely a core image returning here with him on the floor surrounded by sexualized matronly figures and feeling overpowered/overwhelmed? (and then ‘compensating’ with violence?)

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  6. oh, and the shift from sex club/store to bridal shop! – female sensuality/physicality as a commodity to be bartered, be it in prostitution or marriage?

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  7. Sailors as an image of masculinized, misogynist abuse? Saw that similarly last night in the new Konwitschny (which was a smart take on that issue, too – still some white male blind spots, but some images that cut right through)

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  8. also interesting that in this take, the Prince and Rusalka are two archetypes who don’t even look at each other as individals and who get pushed at each other and then likely never manage to actually connect? rather, projecting into each other based on cultural expectations?

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  9. there must also be something about the policeman as an authority figure getting questioned by the water nymphs. And in between the stick and the butcher, I am guessing something about castration, also adding in the celibate church personnel.

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    1. it’s not that relentless searching/commenting transport of White and MP, I would say but it is really engaged and committed and differentiated.

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  10. Does the Prince ever actually interaction with Rusalka? Or is he happy with his mannequin and others, and actual Rusalka is all about the Water King?

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    1. oh, right, the Prince marries the Foreign Princess – but Rusalka still seems defined here a lot more by her relation with the Water King (who might be seeing the Prince a a younger alter ego whom he is then still jealous of? Look at the identical pajamas!) than with the Prince.

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  11. oh, the mirror movements, once him to her, then the other her to the other him . not sure what it means, but it’s a neat visual.

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  12. but just take MP’s face here as they sit on the bed as a key: it is clear she is distressed and aware of Prince/Foreign Princess, and does not share the Water King’s desire for her (will have to go back to the beginning later to try and figure out how their first meeting/interaction ties into this) – look at that assault and that look that stops him!

    Reminds me now of that interview (with MP?) where it said “Stages of a marriage, they are unable to connect even though they want to, there is reverting to violence and no lasting connection despite striving for it”.

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    1. yes, i like very nice details here and there, but too murky to put things together. love that look on the bed. *very* good body reactions. to illustrate vulnerabilities from 1 moment to strength in the next. and Willard’s acting is also really great!

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  13. okay, I swear I went to the abthroom for 1 minute, and I come back and what’s with Queen fo the Night Meets Virgen de Guadalupe in the Sky with diamonds? Sanctified objectification and de-sexualisation of ‘the feminine’?

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          1. but back to projection now – stabbing herself repeatedly with a stage knife and then exposing it as a stage knife? Again killing her own projected persona?
            And Prince and FOreign Princess demanding the show be done as written in the program book, forcing the back into the narrative, and controlling the narrative?

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  14. oh, the mirrors – identity-split? Fragmentation?
    (also, nice knight’s uniform ;-))

    oh, but the setting of Rusalka’s emotions and pain as a PAY FOR YOUR FUN performance for the Prince and his wife is f***Ing brilliant.

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  15. i like that it is not an easy version of ‘woman are always battered and noting else, men are always the abusers’ – it’s like a mutual net of guilt and taking advantage here.

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    1. one day, we’ve got to make a gay exception and watch the Matthew Bourne Swan Lake together – lots of music to weep over, and lots of gay drama and beauty.

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  16. does the Foreing Princess kick the Water King because she cannot kick her version of him (=the Prince)?
    wait… where did Rusalka go?

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          1. I think the really effective Mulholland Drive slant here is that it oscillates between who is the double and who is the ‘original’

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      1. the first she was Rusalka. now this she is stabbing the heart repeatedly with the stage knife.
        oh, i miss why the first she yanked the knife back. did the 2nd she threaten to stab Willard’s character?

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    1. still trying to figure out Foreign Princess and Water King here – what does she want with him, why and how does she suddenly relate to him?
      It is easier with the Prince and the Water King – the younger one seems to despise the older one as a version of himself he does not want to acknowledge?

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  17. okay, I am slow tonight – red dress princess is the red dress Mrs from earlier? It really looks like wo people that are doubled/mirrored, and the doubles and mirrors get to interact with everyone, too!

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    1. yes yes, entirely double. Rusalka is the double of the Mrs. and Sailor double of Willard’s character. the very young boy at the beginning was also supposed to be Willard. This much i seem to catch on.

      As to how they feed on / act on each other, that’s the key to unlock this somehow. For example, now Rusalka is tending to the old man.. switching vulnerability / strength / violence..

      AND back to her music again as she first got on the lamp post!

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    2. i can’t say we’re slow. it definitely makes us think, going into overdrive. but never a hint of caricature. and you stay tense engaged.
      (damn, ∂, and really wonderful phrasing)

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      1. I was afraid I’d be tired, but I am SO awake.
        (still, I should have gotten sooner that Mrs/Foreign Princess are the same).

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        1. speaking of which, i just thought:
          double because each personality has strengths/weaknesses and projects into your double the things you fear not to do / don’t dare / want to do?

          So, Rusalka just killed off another projection? and she’s now “free” ?

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  18. okay, so whose heart is getting thrown around?

    also, nice bit of callback to earlier, when the Mrs becomes (sexually) available after Rusalka/Alter Ego is abused – you’ve got Rusalka putting herself at the feet of the Prince, and that is the point the Foreign Princess pulls down her dress shoulders again.

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  19. Papatanasiu really seems at her strongest when she gets to play off an equally good actor as her stage partner. The small-scale reactions here are brilliant, as is the body timing!

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  20. okay, and now Jezibaba as a Rusalka Double – just when you think you’ve got one aspect nailed down, there’s a shift. This is so much fun.

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      1. as in whom to stab? Or commit suicide?

        …also, why is Rusalka stabbed already here? Mut have been Jezibab? – Also the white dress with red is a flashback to the butler in the bloodies white apron earlier. ( I love it when small things tie together like that.)

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            1. these nuns, in parallel with what’s taking place in the apartment.. are they celebrating the “birth” of new creature given how the “old” one was removed?

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  21. So Rusalka sends WaterKing in to kill… the Foreign Princess?
    And meanwhile, the repressed sensuality that is still there underneath, symbolized by the nuns, kills Rusalka (or, seeing the light pole, her freedom?)

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  22. ah those the water nymphs again? As three different Rusalkas, kind of “Archetype you cannot kill”?
    (While Water King actually murdered his wife AKA the Mrs. over his idea of Rusalka?)

    (kind of satisfying how irrelevant the tenor is in all this)

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  23. and there is Water King with the Axe again, out to kill the Rusalka zombies?
    (I didn’t get why he was running out with the axe early in Act I, but here is the tie-back to it)

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    1. so, he killed his wife to keep up the idea of dreaming for Rusalka. and once he “freed” her via breaking glasses, now he sees himself as the tender lover (or is she making the projection? it seems more like his)

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      1. because she is all ‘I love you never mind you married that other princess?

        I like the idea of the Prince now being WaterKing’s self-insert.

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    1. but in this one, it’s so much more intriguing to see Rusalka being shady, too. Not some mistreated damsel who cries and dies over him.

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          1. (though now I find the interpretation of her just being a supernatural man-eater too easy and boring after all the different psychological layers and alternate realities.

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  24. so in that dream-place, they kind of fall into each other as an impossible vision, whereas in the real world, he killed his wife over someone he saw once in a the street and then turned into a fantasy creature to deal with his own desires/unhappiness/failing marriage, and when the actual woman shows up again now, he loses it?

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    1. (nah, she throws the flower, is all “I won! but I’m not really happy.” and off she goes to drive the next one mad. —- So, is the final reveal that Rusalka is a sociopath serial killer by proxy? Or that this is, on a more abstract level, a pattern of relationship – always projection and abuse – she will never get out of, be it as aggressor or a assaulted party?)

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      1. something within that!
        (i’m waaaaay past my bed time.. so will bow out now, will catch up tomorrow.)
        Thanks for suggesting and hosting this. Very nice indeed, the tenor is not the main character at all.

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  25. the end. not quite. we will need to investigate much further.
    you are right though when she is not the only one acting on her own, but with partners such as W.White and Morloc (and director/staging + orchestra).

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    1. Yes, that’s good exposure! And I would also suggest the Paris Mitridate… which, if it had been on mezzo.tv instead of on ARTE, would likely have made onto medici.tv a while ago. I am very grateful it went via ARTE, otherwise I wold have missed it, and I think the fact that it is free also gives other viewer access (and ARTE gets a large demographic slice of opera audiences and adjacent crowds across Germany and, to a slightly lesser degree, France). OperaPlatform would also be nice, if smaller, but it depends on houses/participating artists doing hooks on Social Media, and Papatanasiu is not so big on that. Perhaps also because she has a lot of her hardcore fanbase in Greece and now also in France/Belgium, with her recent exposures there? and it’s perhaps not the crowds who communicate about the shows they’ve seen on public Social Media. Plus much of international opera fandom moves in English, it seems?

      >

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