Music note: Witches and nymphs on Rice Park


The Minnesota Opera ended its season April 20 with Antonin Dvorak’s Rusalka. The opera tells the story of a water nymph who longs to be mortal and pursue her love of the prince who swims the lake. Despite warnings to the contrary, Rusalka turns to the witch Jezibaba to turn human, becoming mute along the way. What Rusalka does not expect is the loneliness she experiences in the mortal world as the prince betrays her love, and she soon returns to the lake. In the end, the prince revisits the lake to find his lost love, but upon a single embrace, he dies in her arms.

For information about the Minnesota Opera’s upcoming season, see

When I showed up at the Ordway, I was not surprised to see young girls decked out in their fanciest dresses. After all, the Minnesota Opera had been billing this performance as “The Little Mermaid without the Disney ending.” But the Disney ending wasn’t the only thing missing. There was no Flounder, no singing crabs, and no personalities to carry the cast of characters.

Also in the Daily Planet, read Rebecca Mitchell on the Minnesota Opera’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

As the title character, Kelly Kaduce beautifully sang Dvorak’s music, but was hardly memorable. Brandon Jovanovich was reminiscent of many Disney princes; rich voice, but little presence. That said, the story did not give the performers an easy job in terms of creating believable, sympathetic characters. I overheard someone behind me say they felt like they were watching CliffsNotes.

The production’s strongest feature was Robert Wierzel’s lighting and Wendall K. Harrington’s projections of rippling water, a full moon, and a doe. The projections created a mood that the performers could not carry.

While Rusalka proved not to be the highlight of this season’s offerings—I would give that recognition to last November’s The Italian Girl in Algiers—there is always the new season to look forward to. Next season includes Il Trovatore, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Faust, The Barber of Seville, and the American premiere of The Adventures of Pinocchio. A tip to those of you interested in opera on a budget: Tempo, the Minnesota Opera’s group for young professionals, offers discounted tickets—plus complimentary appetizers and drink specials after the show. I took advantage of the program this season and was not disappointed.

Rebecca Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. She lives in Uptown Minneapolis and is currently working in public relations.