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CHAN 10449M
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CHAN 10449
(multiple CD Set)

Dvorak: Rusalka

The Classical Shop
release date: January 2008

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2007


Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Richard Hickox

Barry Ryan

baritone - Gamekeeper/Huntsman

Bruce Martin

bass - Water Sprite

Anne-Marie Owens

mezzo-soprano - Jezibaba

Dominica Matthews

mezzo-soprano - Wood Nymph

Elizabeth Whitehouse

soprano - Foreign Princess

Sian Pendry

soprano - Kitchen Boy

Cheryl Barker

soprano - Rusalka

Sarah Crane

soprano - Wood Nymph

Taryn Fiebig

soprano - Wood Nymph

Rosario La Spina

tenor - Prince

Opera Australia Chorus


Sydney Opera House


Ralph Couzens


Allan Maclean

Tony David Cray


Jason Blackwell


Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 152:22
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  An opera in three acts  
  Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil, after Undine  
  by Friedrich Heinrich de la Motte Fouqué  
  A production by Opera Australia recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in March 2007  
  Act I  
  A forest glade at the edge of a lake. A moonlit night.  
1 Prelude 4:24
2 Allegro molto. 'Ho, ho, ho' 4:28
  Wood Nymph  
3 'You are most welcome here in the lake' 3:24
  Water Sprite  
4 'Father Water Sprite!' 4:17
5 'He often comes here' 4:31
6 'O moon in the velvet heavens' 4:50
7 'The water feels cold!' 3:19
8 'With your ancient wisdom, you know everything' 3:02
9 'I know that, I know that' 6:24
10 'Abracadabra' 3:50
11 'A young Huntsman was once out riding' 4:53
12 'Divine vision, sweetest being' 4:31
13 'I know you're nothing but magic' 2:06
  Act II  
  A park surrounding the Prince's palace.  
14 'Tell me all, dear boy' 4:07
15 'Our forest is haunted' 3:48
16 'You have now been with me for a week' 5:07
17 'Ah, this reproach comes not before time' 3:46
18 Ballet. Andante - Moderato maestoso 6:51
19 'No-one in the world can give you…' 4:09
  Water Sprite  
20 'White blossoms along the road' 5:58
  Wedding Guests  
21 'Oh, it's all in vain!' 2:54
22 'Do you see them?' 3:19
23 'But when my fire has burnt you out' 3:36
  Foreign Princess  
  Act III  
  The lakeside glade. Night is drawing on.  
24 'Unfeeling water power' 4:00
25 'Deprived of my youth' 4:18
26 'Aha! Are you back already?' 3:06
27 'You must wash away Nature's curse' 5:08
28 'I am torn from life' 4:01
29 'Are you afraid?' 3:55
30 'Our prince has Fallen dangerously ill' 4:07
  Kitchen Boy  
31 'I have golden tresses' 7:45
  First Wood Nymph  
32 'My white doe!' 4:47
33 'Beloved, do you recognise me?' 2:21
34 'Why did you enfold me in your arms…?' 5:23
35 'Kiss me, kiss me, give me peace' 5:57
 Sarah Crane soprano - Wood Nymph
 Taryn Fiebig soprano - Wood Nymph
 Dominica Matthews mezzo-soprano - Wood Nymph
 Bruce Martin bass - Water Sprite
 Cheryl Barker soprano - Rusalka
 Anne-Marie Owens mezzo-soprano - Jezibaba
 Rosario La Spina tenor - Prince
 Barry Ryan baritone - Gamekeeper/Huntsman
 Sian Pendry soprano - Kitchen Boy
 Elizabeth Whitehouse soprano - Foreign Princess
 Richard Hickox
  21-29 March 2007  
Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in March 2007
Cheryl Barker takes the title role of Rusalka for the first time
This is a 3 CD set for the price of 2 CDs

Richard Hickox and Opera Australia’s Australian premiere production of Dvorák’s Rusalka opened to spectacular reviews in March 2007. ‘Hickox and the orchestra capture its sudden changeability and dramatic force, elegantly shaping the luscious, sweeping melodies while inflecting the intoxicating, folk music-inspired rhythms with grace and bite’, noted The Australian. Chandos recorded the performances live and here releases the opera on a 3-CD set.

Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy-tale The Little Mermaid, Rusalka tells of a water-spirit who falls in love with a prince. Enlisting the help of a witch, Rusalka becomes human so as to marry him. When the prince tires of her, and is unfaithful, she tries to return to the water, but a condition of her becoming human has been violated and she eventually dies together with the remorseful prince. Her story is of human desire, self-sacrifice and the search for enlightenment.

By the time Dvorák came to write Rusalka, he was an experienced opera composer with nine works to his credit; Rusalka was to be his last and is now a seasoned favourite. Part of the secret of the score’s magic lies in the instrumental colouring. Dvorák was always inspired in his handling of the orchestra, but in Rusalka he reaches new heights of expressive scene painting. In the hands of Richard Hickox these elements are skillfully realised.

Taking the role of Rusalka for the first time in this production, the Australian-born soprano Cheryl Barker won deserved plaudits for her performances throughout the Australian press. ‘It is hard to imagine anyone doing the title role better” (The Australian). ‘Cheryl Barker gives an astonishing performance… she manages to capture the ethereal other-worldly quality of the water spirit, both physically and vocally, and her realization that her love for the prince is not returned is heart wrenching’ (The Canberra Review). She is joined in leading roles by Rosario La Spina, Elizabeth Whitehouse, Bruce Martin and Anne-Marie Owens who also received excellent reviews. The Sydney Morning Herald, for example, wrote, ‘Barker is not the only star. Elizabeth Whitehouse is thrillingly venal as the rival foreign princess, and Bruce Martin, as the water sprite, has insistent potency’.

This 3-CD set is sure to draw attention to the talents of Opera Australia and is offered at the price of a 2-CD set.

A final choice must remain marginal, but anyone who wants a new-minted version of one of the most magical of all operas – with the harp signalling the otherworldly magic of Rusalka as Water nymph, more atmospherically recorded than on Decca – this new Chandos version makes an excellent choice.
Gramophone Editor’s Choice

The young Australian tenor Rosario La Spina is stupendous, far more that just the best Prince ever. Every note from top to bottom has a gorgeous ring, and he sings with passion. His three arias closing Act I are dazzling, as he sails easily through the high tessitura; his Act II duets with Whitehouse as the foreign Princess are the stuff of operatic legend. She is very good on her own; together they make sparks fly. Not since Pavarotti have I been bowled over by a new tenor. As a bonus, la Spina also seems comfortable with the Czech language.

The new performance has much to recommend it. It is also sung in Czech skilfully though (as a foreigner I suggest diffidently) with mixed success. It has at the helm Richard Hickox, well at ease with this Australian forces, pacing the music expertly with an affectionate hand. He draws excellent playing from the orchestra, which has a distinct warmth and timbre of its own… Cheryl Barker is an outstanding Rusalka.
International Record Review

Edward Greenfield Gramophone Critic’s Choice 2008

As musical director of Opera Australia, it is not surprising that Richard Hickox should want to make recordings with that excellent company. He has made a bold choice in Dvorak’s last and greatest opera, Rusalka, when there is a near definitive version available on Decca with a mainly Czech cast and the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Yet even in face of such competition there is a strong case for the new version from Chandos… A final choice must remain marginal, anyone who wants a new-minted version of one of the most magical of all operas… this new Chandos version made an excellent choice.
Gramophone Editor’s Choice

British conductor Richard Hickox responds beautifully to the passionate ebb and surge of the score, and draws some luscious playing from the orchestra… Australian soprano Cheryl Barker makes a very touching Rusalka.
Classic FM

Cheryl Barker is on excellent form, immersing herself in Rusalka’s fiendish technical and emotional range. Good showings in smaller roles include Bruce Martin as a cranky Water Sprite.
The Times

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