• Classroom Activity

The activities in this guide address several aspects of Rusalka:

  • The capacity of myth to express human experience
  • The interpretation of fantasy as an allegorical medium for ideas and feelings
  • The ways legends are changed and adapted to different settings and periods in time
  • The attribution of cultural nationalism to Dvořák’s work
  • The opera as a unified work of art, involving a wide range of creative decisions by the composer, the librettist, and the artists of the Metropolitan Opera

Rusalka Classroom Activity

Beneath the Surface: The Fairy Tale as Allegory

Dvořák and Kvapil subtitled Rusalka a “Lyrical Fairy Tale.” Yet it is much more than a romantic bedtime story. Despite such typical components as curses, magical powers, and a strict dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural, Rusalka—like many other works of fantasy—has often been understood as an allegory. In this activity, students will explore key moments of the opera in order to become acquainted with the concept of allegory—what it means, how it works, and the relationships it proposes between works of art and their inherent meanings. They will

  • consider allegorical interpretations of Rusalka’s plot
  • examine the music and words of key scenes
  • discuss meanings those scenes might hold outside the boundaries of the opera’s plot
  • draw their own conclusions about Rusalka’s status as an allegory
  • develop their own allegorical interpretation of Rusalka