English National Opera stages new production of Dvořák’s best-loved opera Rusalka

4th March 2020 in Press

Opens Saturday 28 March at the London Coliseum (7 performances)

Acclaimed German director Tatjana Gürbaca and designer Klaus Grünberg make their English National Opera (ENO) debuts with ENO’s first new Rusalka in two decades, with Corinne Winters in the title role and David Butt Philip as the Prince.

Dvořák’s Rusalka (1901) is a tragic modern-day fairy tale; water nymph Rusalka falls in love with a young prince who visits her lake. Desperate for the opportunity to win his love, she trades her place in her water-world for life in the mortal realm but at a terrible price. Following rejection from the Prince, she is unable to return to her former life and the tale ends in tragedy. Touching upon themes of existentialism and alienation between the two worlds, Rusalka is a powerful exploration of a woman who grows beyond her world to seek happiness and find her place, learning the true meaning of love, understanding and forgiveness.

German opera director Tatjana Gürbaca directs this new production, making her UK and house debut. Named Director of the Year by Germany’s magazine Opernwelt in 2013, Tatjana’s career highlights include Parsifal (Vlaamse Opera, 2018), Die Ring Trilogie (Theater an der Wien, 2017), Alcina (Theater an der Wien, 2018), Jephtha (Opera Halle, 2018) and, most recently, Don Giovanni (Theater Bremen, 2019-2020). Tatjana comments: ‘Rusalka is one of the most beautiful heart-breaking love-stories and an existentialist drama: love is a dangerous power that alienates her from all orders and tears a hole into the face of social convention. Traveling between two worlds with an overwhelming desire, Rusalka discovers her inner truth and conquers death. Dvořák’s magnificent opera intoxicates with its vibrant Romanticism.’

Rusalka’s librettist Jaroslav Kvapil drew from many sources, including Slavic myth and Northern European folk-tales that inspired Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine (1811) and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (1837). Rusalka was Dvořák’s ninth opera and is considered his most successful, displaying the composer’s exceptional gift for melody and orchestration, featuring the beautiful aria ‘Song to the Moon’.

Making his ENO debut is Dutch conductor Antony Hermus who joins us from Opera North having just conducted The Marriage of Figaro, his first piece of work since joining as Opera North’s Principal Guest Conductor. Antony is also Principal Guest Conductor of the North Netherlands Orchestra and Artistic Advisor of the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands.

American soprano Corinne Winters makes her role debut as Rusalka, returning to the London Coliseum after her European debut as ‘the best ENO Violetta in decades’ (The Sunday Times) in La traviata in 2013. Corinne, who originally graduated from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, has performed across Europe, Australia and America since her debut and has been acclaimed by the New York Times as ‘an outstanding actress, as well as a singer of extraordinary grace and finesse’.

One of the most outstanding British tenors of his generation, David Butt Philip makes his role debut as the Prince following his Olivier-Award-nominated performance in last season’s War Requiem. David made his ENO debut as Rodolfo in La bohème (2014) where he unleashed ‘a warm, easy-sounding tenor voice with plenty of heft and ping at the top’ (Guardian).

Olivier Award-nominated Irish mezzo-soprano, Patricia Bardon returns to the role of Ježibaba having performed the role earlier in the season for Glyndebourne, where her ‘dark mezzo impressed’ (Opera), as well as recently for Berliner Philharmoniker and Opéra National du Rhin. She will also continue in the role for Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg and finally Garsington Opera later this year.

We are delighted to welcome soprano Claire Rutter back to the London Coliseum as the Foreign Princess. Claire returns following huge success in her previous roles in ENO’s Tosca (2011) and Lucrezia Borgia (2011) – ‘To catch a terrific, scalp-tingling Tosca, look no further than Claire Rutter at the Coliseum. Glorious of voice and subtle of acting, she’s worth the price of the ticket alone’ (Metro).

Returning to the London Coliseum for his first role since La bohème (2018), David Soar brings his ‘sonorous bass’ (Independent) to the role of the Water Spirit.

Six ENO Harewood Artists complete the cast, continuing our commitment to training the talent of the operatic future through the ENO Harewood programme.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Coventry is the Kitchen Boy, following her recent performance in ENO’s new production of The Mask of Orpheus (2019). Baritone Alex Otterburn is the Huntsman, who returns to the London Coliseum following his ‘razor-edged Moralès’ (the Guardian) in Carmen.

The three Wood Nymphs are sung by Soprano Nadine Benjamin, mezzo-soprano Idunnu Münch and mezzo-soprano Katie Stevenson. All three return from recent ENO performances, Nadine following her ‘exquisite’ (the Stage) performance in Luisa Miller (2020), Katie having sung Kate Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly (2020) while Idunnu returns following her ENO debut in Orpheus in the Underworld (2019).

Completing the cast is tenor John Findon as the Gamekeeper following his recent performance as Remendado in ENO’s Carmen (2020).

Set and lighting design is by Klaus Grünberg, winner of the Design Award at the International Opera Awards 2017, assisted by Associate Set Designer Anne Kuhn. Costume design is by Barbara Drosihn and translation is by Rodney Blumer.

Rusalka opens on Saturday 28 March 19:00 at the London Coliseum for 7 performances: 28 March & 1, 3, 6, 8, 15 April at 19.00. 11 April at 18.00.

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee)*

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings

Co-production with Les Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg.




Notes to Editors:

The Press Officer for this production is Isabelle Stocker.


About English National Opera

English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone. We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering tickets for as little as ten pounds and we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.

We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in the 2018/19 season were first-time bookers and this season more than 10% of our bookings have been by under 30’s. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis has reached more than 20,000 school children and community groups, and we have brought opera into schools, allowing more than 5000 schoolchildren from schools with a higher than average black or minority ethnic (BAME) background representation to experience opera. Our talent development programme continues to nurture the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and of conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship). We also give free tickets to Under 18s in our balcony for opening nights, Friday and Saturday performances.

Last season, the proportion of our audience with a BAME background increased from 4% to 10%. In January of last year, we announced that we would be recruiting four new members of our Chorus from a BAME background, as well as four BAME Director Observerships. This year, we announced that we will also be recruiting five new BAME string players to continue working towards our aim of making the opera industry more accessible and representative of the society in which we live.

Through our ongoing support and development of British talent, 85% of the cast in the 2018-19 season were British or British trained, up 5% from the previous season. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.

ENO is about opera for everyone.



Antonín Dvořák (1813-1901)
Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil after Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Conductor, Antony Hermus
Director, Tatjana Gürbaca



Rusalka Corinne Winters
Prince David Butt Philip
Water Spirit David Soar
Ježibaba Patricia Bardon
Foreign Princess Claire Rutter
Kitchen Boy Katie Coventry*
Huntsman Alex Otterburn*
1st Wood Nymph Nadine Benjamin*
2nd Wood Nymph Idunnu Münch*
3rd Wood Nymph Katie Stevenson*
Gamekeeper John Findon*

* current ENO Harewood Artists