1990: Ben Heppner and Renee Fleming as the Prince and Rusalka

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In the fall of 1990, Renee Fleming and Susan Graham made their Seattle Opera debuts in Dvořak’s Rusalka, with Ben Heppner as the Prince. The gorgeous new production, designed by Gunther Schneider-Siemssen in his local debut, also saw Robert Schaub join the company as Technical Director.

Here, in the final moments of the tragic drama, Ben Heppner as the crazed Prince implores his little mermaid, "Kiss me, kiss me a thousand times, set me free, bring me peace." But Rusalka has become a will-o'-the-wisp and her kiss means death: "My love will chill your heart...I kiss you with lips of ice." He dies, and his corpse sinks into the icy waters of her swamp as she flits away to lure more mortal souls to death and damnation. The orchestra of Seattle Opera was conducted by Bruce Ferden.

If you've never heard this extraordinary opera, most of Seattle Opera's wonderful cast was featured, years later, on the great recording conducted by Charles Mackerras for Decca, available at Amazon.com.