Somewhere over the… moon?

Both works currently playing at the Canadian Opera Company feature a famous aria known by people who might otherwise not know the whole work.

In Turandot it’s “nessun dorma”, a piece associated with Luciano Pavarotti, and maybe a little bit with Aretha Franklin.

Perhaps they’re discussing it in the afterlife, …somewhere …. Up there?

Excuse me I can’t help thinking that way, because of the other opera and its big number.

The “Song to the moon” from Dvořák’s Rusalka is heard in recitals and on the radio, while the full opera, not so much. If you know the aria you may already know why I put that funny headline on this little meditation.

Suppose I play you a famous tune by Harold Arlen, that is closely associated with Judy Garland and the film The Wizard of Oz.

That opening phrase of the song, an octave leap upwards, seems to capture a wistful hope for a new life in a new place.

Arlen might have heard something like this before. Did he know Rusalka? I have no idea. But listen to the “Song to the moon” and judge for yourself.

And fortunately the soprano in this little clip happens to be the same one we’re hearing in Toronto namely Sondra Radvanovsky.

Which one do you like better? (i like both)

Today I went to the library to get a copy of the score.

I was cautioned as I took that particular score out.  There are 3 in the collection:

  • one all in Slavic languages,
  • one stiffly new meaning that the pages don’t stay open,
  • and another older one that I took…. )

I was cautioned!  A page was missing.

You only get one guess as to which page it is. Yes, the first page of the aria.


See how the score jumps from page 44 to 47? 45 & 46 are missing in action.

Did someone rip it out? …a water-sprite unable to follow civilized rules in a library? Talk about getting into character..!

I was thinking about singing it. Yes I know, I’m a guy. But it sits in the same keys as two tenor pieces with which it might have some superficial resemblances
(…NOT like Arlen’s tune by the way!),

1) “O Paradiso”– Meyerbeer

2) “O terra addio” (which is a duet not an aria…)–Verdi

In both cases I think the composer was trying for something gentle rather than imposingly difficult for the singer. The high notes for these (meaning the Verdi & the Meyerbeer) don’t have to be big and loud, although haha that doesn’t stop singers from turning the bel canto into can belto. But in fairness none of these operas are bel canto, they’re all grand operas.

I’ll be seeing Rusalka Saturday night, including Sondra. The librarian said the production is wonderful having seen the dress rehearsal yesterday.

Oh boy.

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2 Responses to Somewhere over the… moon?

  1. randavi says:

    Since digging into Rusalka recently, I have been asking this same question. On the 3rth measure (or counted in a 2, the 6th) Dvorak moves to the haunting 6 major. Arlen resolves temporarily to the 1.
    Either way, the emotional movement has such close affinity, longing, pleading. Whether Arlen had ever heard Rusalka it that time is debatable. It took decades for it to cross the ocean. Perhaps genius works in mysterious ways.

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