The Little Mermaid has always resonated with me. It might be because it’s more than a tragic tale about the plight of a young woman in love. It’s a story about boundaries—a story about overcoming limits and growing up, realizing responsibilities and understanding the inconsistency of love.
Heading into the show, I did not know what to expect as this fairy tale has been adapted so often that the real account undoubtedly lies somewhere at the bottom of a lake. Antonín Dvorák’s Czech masterpiece is darker than the typical Disney tale and, in my opinion, far better.
UBC Opera did not disappoint. The set was magical and yet highly simple, and the costumes dazzled in the light. Kayleigh Harrison warmed the audience with her chilling portrayal of the independent and doomed Rusalka while Scott Brooks brilliantly played her protective, yet caring father, Vodník. A much needed comic relief was provided by Ana Toumine as the frightened kitchen boy and Aaaron Durand, the plump gamekeeper.
Choosing her own fate and defying tradition, Rusalka plunges into the human world only to resurface as a rejected love. In doing so, she grows from an infatuated child into adulthood. The transition is painful but honest, sad but beautiful. It is also a transition that many students make at UBC throughout their four years. Often, it means casting off defunct prejudices and finding the will to walk on our own two feet.
Wanting to dive into a refreshing take on the Little Mermaid? Consider going to the UBC Opera as they recreate the ethereal and magical world of Dvorak’s Rusalka—no packs with an evil witch required!