So this afternoon I paid another trip to the local cinematorium for a live broadcast from The Met: Antonin Dvořák's Rusalka, based on the Czech fairy tale of the same name. I figured, heck, eastern Europe is known for light and airy cheerfulness, so it's bound to be nothing but a gay romp, right?

You know it's bad when you leave the theater saying, "Wow, that was depressing even for an opera." Take it away, Wikipedia plot summary (emphasis added):

Act 1

A meadow by the edge of a lake

Three wood-sprites tease the Water-Goblin, ruler of the lake. Rusalka, the Water-Goblin's daughter, tells her father she has fallen in love with a human Prince who comes to hunt around the lake, and she wants to become human to embrace him. He tells her it is a bad idea, but nonetheless steers her to a witch, Ježibaba, for assistance. Rusalka sings her Song to the Moon, asking it to tell the Prince of her love. Ježibaba tells Rusalka that, if she becomes human, she will lose the power of speech and moreover that, if she is betrayed by the prince, both of them will be eternally damned. Rusalka agrees to the terms and drinks a potion. The Prince, hunting a white doe, finds Rusalka, embraces her, and leads her away, as her father and sisters lament.

Act 2

The garden of the Prince's castle

A Gamekeeper and his nephew, the Kitchen-Boy, note that the Prince is to be married to a mute and nameless bride, suspecting witchcraft and doubting it will last, as the prince is already lavishing attentions on a Foreign Princess who is a wedding guest. The Foreign Princess, jealous, curses the couple. The prince rejects Rusalka. The Water-Goblin takes Rusalka back to his pond. The Foreign Princess, having won the Prince's affection, now scorns it.

Act 3

A meadow by the edge of a lake

Rusalka asks Ježibaba for a solution to her woes and is told she can save herself if she kills the Prince with the dagger she is given. Rusalka rejects this, throwing the dagger into the lake. Rusalka becomes a bludička, a spirit of death living in the depths of the lake, emerging only to lure humans to their deaths. The Gamekeeper and the Kitchen Boy consult Ježibaba about the Prince, who, they say, has been betrayed by Rusalka. The Water-Goblin says that it was actually the Prince that betrayed Rusalka. The wood-sprites mourn Rusalka's plight. The Prince, searching for his white doe, comes to the lake, senses Rusalka, and calls for her. He asks her to kiss him, even knowing her kiss means death and damnation. They kiss and he dies; and the Water-Goblin comments that "All sacrifices are futile." Rusalka thanks the Prince for letting her experience human love, commends his soul to God, and returns to her place in the depths of the lake as a demon of death.