Photos by Finnish National Opera / Heikki Tuuli

My short visit to Finland was filled with culture. My trip started with a new interpretation of Swan Lake and it ended with the second performance of Rusalka. If I say I liked Swan Lake, I was overwhelmed by Rusalka.

I must admit I did not know much of Rusalka before I saw it. Still, it is one of the best operas I have ever seen at Finnish National Opera. Director Richard Jones is said to be one of the opera directors of his generation. It is easy to agree, so tense and visual he had made his Rusalka. Mr. Jones had divided Antonín Dvorak's famous opera in three sets: lake view, Czech gasthaus and final scene at a bordello. In every scene the often referred moon is hanging above the sets.

At the second night's performance Elisabet Strid was playing Rusalka and Mika Pohjonen the prince whom Rusalka falls in love with destructive consequenses. The lead couple was a bit unbalanced, but they both sung very well. I liked especially Ms. Strid's performance. In addition there were very good performers for Water Gnome (Gregory Frank) and Ježibaba (Maria Kettunen).

As a visualist I enjoyed the sets as much the music and singing. The sets were simple but eye catching, especially in the first and the last act. The first set was somewhat traditional although the was a diving board under the moon. The last act was set to happen at a bordello where blond girls were waiting their customers with devil-may-care looks. The whole act was a quite sad but it touched me the most.

Rusalka is not just an opera, it is a figure in Slavic mythology. If you would like to know more, click here.

Rusalka will be played at Finnish National Opera until January 19th 2010.

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