Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Linda Lister

Second Committee Member

Alfonse Anderson

Third Committee Member

Tod Fitzpatrick

Fourth Committee Member

Weiwei Le

Fifth Committee Member

Nate Bynum

Number of Pages



The two late-romantic operas Rusalka by Antonín Dvořák and The Snow Maiden by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov are based on fairy tales, and combine romance, fantasy, and drama. Their plots develop in parallel universes and have astonishing similarities. However, the music and drama develop following different goals. In Rusalka, leitmotifs and dramatic harmonies shape the plot into a tragedy. In The Snow Maiden motives and melodies exist to describe the character rather than lead the story and the drama; the focus is on Russian folk elements, choruses, and people.

The main character in both operas is a naïve, beautiful, fairy-like female character who rejects her own supernatural world for her desperate desire to experience human love and passion. Other main characters in both operas is the man-lover of the protagonists, who is a an unstable figures who easily change his mind, a fatherly figure who helps lead the events, a female character (a mother or an aunt) who acts as the allowing force for the protagonist’s entrance to the human world, or the world of passion. Additionally, an antagonist female character, who is human, passionate and has a stronger voice than that of the protagonist, is able to experience passion and love from the protagonist’s lover. In both cases, Dvořák and Rimsky-Korsakov, masterfully manage to depict every character, emotion, and moment in the plot, each with his own skill in orchestration, melody, harmony, and texture.

In Chapter Four a compendium of all the important musical figures is presented to assist the reader in understanding the detailed comparison of the two opera plots from Chapter Three. It show the most important motives and melodies within the two operas, that present the different characteristics in musical and motivic style of the two composers, and describe the characters and plot. The research follows based on articles, books, reviews, and dissertations that help shed more scientific light to the characters of the opera. With the transformation of each character through the discovery of their significance in history through the evolution of culture, the two fairy tales obtain such a depth in dimension and perspective that it truly becomes like a treasure hunt, or an archeological excavation to compare them.


Opera; Vocal performance



File Format


File Size

3200 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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