When you hear that Antonin Dvorak’s “Rusalka” is the opera world’s take on “The Little Mermaid,” you should be aware of a couple of caveats.
First: no scales or tails. A rusalka, in Slavic legend, is a water spirit but not part fish. Second: there is no cute lobster singing “Kiss the Girl”.
“The thing that’s interesting is that the music is stunningly romantic. It’s Dvorak, so it’s filled with all the lush orchestrations, incredible melodies. But yet the libretto was written by a young man and has a much more progressive, forward-looking sentiment. So you have this interesting coming together of the great melodies and lushness of Romantic 19th-century music, but then this more symbolic, metaphorical world with the text.”