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Dvorák, Antonín: Rusalka
Act 2: “Ó marno to je!” (Rusalka)
Aria Talk •
Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
Sopranos who sing Rusalka’s “Mesicku” in auditions should also investigate the two other arias of Dvorák’s heroine. Her third act solo is long for auditions, and you may find its many lower-middle legato passages somewhat awkward. But try the second-act aria; vocally speaking, it’s potentially probably the most magnificent moment of all in this rewarding role. It’s also shorter, rangier and more dramatic than either of the character’s other arias. To be near the prince she loves, the water nymph Rusalka asks the witch Jezibaba to give her human form. Jezibaba does so, but in exchange Rusalka sacrifices her ability to speak. There is another price: She and the prince will both be damned forever if she doesn’t make him love her.
Perplexed by the mute Rusalka, he’s drawn instead to the foreign princess who longs to marry him. Devastated, Rusalka pours out her misery to her father, the water sprite: She feels only half human and that she has no hope, since the prince burns with passion for another woman. At times the role demands near-spinto weight, and nowhere is that more abundantly evident than in this aria. You need considerable thrust throughout the considerable range (the aria ends on a blazing high B). Every phrase also carries a powerful emotional charge, with which it’s very easy to go overboard. You’ve got to maintain an equalized sound, so that the vital repetitions of “nemohu zemrit, nemohu zít” (“I can neither live nor die”), set fairly low by Dvorák, will emerge with the necessary fullness.
Publisher: Edition Bärenreiter Praha
Recording: Renée Fleming in complete recording, London 289 460 568-2
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