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Music, Opera & Mermaids, Symphony's Performance Of 'Rusalka' Has Got It All

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John Clare
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TPR Arts
Sebastian Lang-Lessing

After a week off, the San Antonio Symphony’s Dvořák Festival continues Friday, and it continues to stretch in different directions. This week's festival performance features the San Antonio Mastersingers, but as Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing describes, they won’t be in standard choral layout.

"A lot of the singing, especially from the ladies, will be offstage," he said. "So they are the offstage mermaids from underground."

The symphony tackles "Rusalka," Antonín Dvořák’s take on a curious Slavic legend of young women who die before their time, becoming mermaid-like ghosts who lure young men.

“We will actually be having them come from the pit, and they will be under the stage,” Lang-Lessing said.

Just like they were under the water.

“That’s right, and we actually get a visual that looks like water in the pit,” Lang-Lessing said.

The lyrics are in Czech, which is a pretty tough language to sing in.

“Not so easy, not so familiar," said San Antonio Mastersinger and Board Member Chancey Blackburn. "We are going to process in from the lobby. We’re not in the choral arrangement on the stage. We have to be very strong independently, we have to know the words. We have to not trip when we’re singing and walking."

Lang-Lessing said the story of Rusalka is a complicated one, but those who come to the symphony’s production have a good edge at understanding it.

“Just in a concert version I think they would lose (an understanding of) it, but with the staging and also with the costume figures and the lighting effects, it’ll be a very enjoyable night," he said.

This weekend’s Dvořák Festival should be a stand-out event.