Dvorak: Rusalka (In German) - Behrens, Götz, Smith; Schneider. Dusseldorf, 1975
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Hildegard Behrens lacks, perhaps, the shimmering vocal quality associated with great Rusalkas, but she makes up for it by presenting the most complete character arc I have ever heard in this tragic fairy-tale. The “Song to the Moon” is impressive, but Behrens really shines in the anguish of Act I and III as Rusalka’s downfall becomes complete. The prince she dooms herself for is no prize, especially when executed by Werner Götz’s pinched, nasal tenor. Gwynn Cornell does well with the half-comic, half-terrifying Jezibaba, and the supporting cast ranges from decent to very good, with an alluring Wood Nymph trio taking vocal honors. Peter Schneider seems most comfortable in the etherial forest scenes and the sparkling ballrooms of Act II, leaving Behrens to shoulder most of the opera’s dramatic weight on her own. The sound is adequate, though there are a few moments of distortion.