The Czech libretto was written by the poet Kvapil (1868–1950) based on the fairy
tales of Karel Jaromir Eriben and Bozena Nemcovà. Rusalka is one of the most successful Czech operas, and represents a cornerstone of
the repertoire of Czech opera houses. A Rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic
Mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river.
Dvořák had played viola for many years in pit orchestras in Prague (Estates Theatre)
from 1857-59 while a student, then from 1862-71 at the Provisional Theatre). He
thus had direct experience of a wide range of operas by Mozart, wEBER, Rossini,
Lortzing, Verdi, Wagner and Smetana. Rusalka was the ninth opera he composed.
For many years unfamiliarity with Dvořák’s operas outside
Czechoslovakia helped reinforce a perception that composition of operas
was a marginal activity, and that despite the beauty of its melodies and
orchestral timbres Rusalka was not a central part of his output
or of international lyric theatre. In recent years it has been performed
more regularly by major opera companies.
The most popular excerpt from Rusalka is the "Song to the
Moon" ("Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém") from Act 1 which is often performed
in concert and recorded separately. It has also been arranged for violin
and used on film sound tracks.Where : Teatro San Carlo