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It’s rare for aficionados to encounter an opera they haven’t seen dozens of times before and whose arias they can’t comfortably warble in the shower — and that’s part of what makes Opera Colorado’s Rusalka exciting. The opera is rarely shown in the United States, and has never before been seen in Colorado.

Like much of Dvořák's work, Rusalka, written in 1901, flowed from the composer’s love of his native Bohemia, and it combines gorgeous, sweeping Romantic passages with folk-song elements. The story comes from ancient fairy tales about vengeful female spirits who lure men to their deaths (think Giselle, Little Mermaid). A water spirit falls in love with a prince and begs a witch to help her become human for love’s sake. Opera Colorado’s Rex Fuller suggests that one reason productions are scarce is that not many opera singers are trained to sing in Czech: “Sometimes you feel like, ‘Can I buy a vowel?’” he quotes one of the performers as saying. But Kelly Kaduce, who plays the title role, has a long and significant association with the opera. She began her rise to fame by winning the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in 1999 with Rusalka’s beautiful “Song to the Moon.”

The overall concept should create some buzz, too. On the design team is Wendall K. Harrington, who teaches video projection at Yale and has worked not only for musicals and operas, but also for such musicians as John Fogerty and the Talking Heads.

Rusalka is at the center of a citywide celebration of all things Czech ( The first performance is today at 7:30 p.m. at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, followed by three more on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Tickets range from $20 to $150. For more information, call 800-982-ARTS or go to
Sat., Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 20, 2 p.m., 2011


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