This week’s “Trove Thursday” features noted Wagnerian Hildegard Behrens revisiting Rusalka, one of her early, lyric roles. This 1981 broadcast from the Bavarian State Opera of Dvorak’s great opera is conducted by Adam Fischer and co-stars Helga Dernesch, Livia Budai, Mikhail Svetlev and Kurt Moll.
Before she attracted international notice as Leonore and Salome, Behrens was in the ensemble in Dusseldorf where, in addition to small roles like Helmwige, she sang Rusalka. A 1975 performance in German from that time was preserved and available briefly on CD issued by Gala.
In 1980, Behrens appeared in a new production of Tristan und Isolde in Munich, but the next year she returned there as Dvorak’s sad water-sprite again in German in what was, I believe, the premiere of the famed Otto Schenk–Günther Schneider-Siemssen production which would later be seen in Vienna and at the Met. This broadcast provided my first acquaintance with Rusalka, and it fostered a great fondness for this gorgeous, moving opera and Behrens’s heroine.
Dvorak: Rusalka (in German)
Munich 23 March 1981
Rusalka: Hildegard Behrens
Jezibaba: Helga Dernesch
The Foreign Princess: Livia Budai
The Turnspit: Julia Conwell
The Prince: Mikhail Svetlev
The Water-Goblin: Kurt Moll
The Gamekeeper: Raimund Grumbach
The Hunter: Bodo Brinkmann
Conductor: Adam Fischer