Mary Zimmerman Directs “Rusalka” at The Met
Antonín Dvořák’s classic story of a water nymph opened at the Met on February 2.
Seeing Zimmerman’s work years ago seemed like a breath of fresh air. In the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, the natural world bursts from the stage space, bringing intricate scenography and true genius. Stories, told so freely by actors on the stage, took on a new elegance when combined with such lush imagery. The production kept a moderate pace, flowing organically. There was something truly thoughtful about the moment-by-moment rhythm of it. When one box opened to the next, there seemed to be a kind of riddle.
Zimmerman’s work with Rusalka is more like a revelation. Met General Manager Peter Gelb spoke with Director Mary Zimmerman on Monday, January 23 at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series. Speaking behind the scenes at the Met, Zimmerman had a few moments to share some words about the production.
She said, “It’s an imaginative opera. It’s not realism. It’s not naturalism.”
“For some reason, the fairytale world, to me, is an 18th-century world, an imaginative world all to its own, with its own aesthetic, its own logic,” Zimmerman said.
Tracing the aesthetics of this MacArthur genius can be a joy. Zimmerman, originally based in Chicago, has had a string of commercial and artistic successes. After success at the Goodman, she directed in New York City, moving developmental work to Broadway. Metamorphoses, set in a swimming pool, won a Tony Award in 2002. Since then, Zimmerman directed three shows at The Metropolitan Opera – Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, and Gioachino Rossini’s Armida.
Featuring flowing images of water so dreamlike they could stir even the most critical viewer, Rusalka, combines romantic charm and royal distinction. This year’s production features Kristine Opolais. Mark Elder is the conductor. Rusalka can be experienced Live in HD on February 25th or at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City from February. 2 – March 2. Here is a glimpse.
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