Glyndebourne has wisely preserved the best of Melly Still's literal,cluttered and ugly 2009 staging; its world-class soundtrack;.Dvorak's operatic masterpiece is in Belohlavek's bones, and he gets a thrilling and luminous account of the ravishing score from the LPO on virtually flawless form. It is the most central European of london's symphonic bands, and certainly equals, if not surpasses, the idiomatic Czech Philharmonic on rival sets conducted by Vaclav Neumann (supraphon) and Charles Mackerras (Decca). Ana Maria Martinez's Rusalka-more warm -blooded than Gabriela Benackova , less self-indulgent then Renee Fleming-gives one of the most ecstatic acounts of the famous Song to the Moon on disc.
Handel tinkered with this allegory throughout his career, producing various versions in Italian and English. The plot is a contest for the heart and mind of Beauty: Pleasure and Deceit encourage hedonism, arguing that "life consists in the present hour." Time and Counsel advise Beauty to forswear worldly pleasures, which "will soon decay". (Guess who wins.) You'd expect the villains to get all the good tunes, but the musical interest here is evenly spread. Time and Counsel get lively and contemplative arias; in particular, Varcoe makes Time's "Loathsome urns" beguiling and chilling. Kirkby, playing a villain for once, is an all-too-convincing Deceit; Partridge as Pleasure, though not ideally youthful, makes some gorgeous sounds. Fisher is well cast as Beauty, and Darlow's direction is a triumph.–Matthew Westphal