Rusalka – Song To The Moon


Antonin Dvorak – Rusalka

The Royal Opera House’s article says “Rusalka is an opera about singing.  Or rather, what happens when you cannot sing”.  It echoes the story of The Little Mermaid.  I loved Disney’s ‘Ariel (The Little Mermaid)’ as a child.  I enjoy singing the aria ‘Song to the Moon’ even more.  This aria comes at the start of the story as Rusalka, a water nymph, sings to the moon.  It is a plea to the moon to reveal her love to the Prince.  Rusalka gives up her voice to be united with the Prince, but he is put off because she cannot say a word and he accepts the hand of a Foreign Princess.  The witch Jezibaba’s curse is for Rusalka to live in the depths of the lake forever.

I sing this aria in Czech which makes it even more beautiful as I have to demonstrate the intense feeling to my English speaking audiences.   Classical Music says “Rusalka is the most popular Czech opera in circulation.


Classic fm writes “The song is based on the folk tale of Undine, and when he wrote Rusalka Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid was already 65 years old”.

I was asked to perform ‘Rusalka’ at the Bowdon Festival in Altrincham at the end of the month, 30th November, so I dusted the score down and lovingly refreshed my knowledge of it.  Realising I’d not fully researched it before I thought I’d share my background discovery with you.

Whilst doing my research I came across these great images from the set designer Erhard Rom from the Minnesota Opera Production and I hope that they give you a flavour of the opera and it’s story.









It is in my program this Saturday in Derby and I will be singing it on the 30th November with the Milnrow Brass Band.  My favourite group of men The Tideswell Male Voice Choir join me in Bowdon in a Christmas Spectacular.  

Finally I could not let you go without listening to one of the Opera greats giving a beautiful rendition of the song  ( especially as I have not got it recorded yet 🙂  ).  So here is Renee Fleming


Here is my recording from the concert in Bowdon 🙂

83 thoughts on “Rusalka – Song To The Moon

    1. I only know two songs in Czech Rusalka and the new one I learnt in September called ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’ for the Kathleen Ferrier competition both by Dvorak beautiful songs both of them. I’d love to sing it with a harp and full orchestra wouldn’t that be wonderful.

      Best wishes

    1. Hello John, Anna Netrebko is another fabulous singer. I’m looking forward to performing the song at the Autumn Leaves event and at the Bowdon Festival at the end of November.

      Best wishes

  1. The Moon is an old friend ….
    She often posed for me …
    I’m sure she will be pleased with your performance and she is very happy that you were talking about it ……
    You are truly amazing Charlotte!

    the stars smile for you

  2. Thank you for sharing your research with us. It is always interesting to learn the stories behind a given piece of music.

    May God bless you as you perform!

  3. Charlotte, best of luck to you in your upcoming performances. It is fun for me to watch your singing career unfold. I imagine you will do a splendid job in this aria, having listened to your voice in other recordings on here. I do hope you get the opportunity to record this lovely piece of music and share it with us here. I wrote about this aria several years ago in my own blog. My favorite rendition of all time is by Frederica Von Stade, who just seems to carry that longing in her voice that compliments the emotion of the aria. But let’s not debate, instead celebrate all the greats who have sung this, past, present, and with you future! Good luck once again in the upcoming months.

    1. Hi Phil, I will try and get my Dad to record my performance so that I can post it on my blog for you. I do love this aria as it allows you to really get into the character when you sing. Thanks for visiting and for sharing your thoughts with me 🙂

      Best wishes

  4. Nothing quite as romantic and mysterious as the moon with its lovers. Great story and the photos of the sets look amazing… Wonderful video and voice, mesmerizing.

    1. Those set designs are superb aren’t they; I love the use of colour and projections onto the flats. Renee Fleming is absolutely magnificent singing this song. There won’t be a full moon either weekend of my performance so I’ll have to imagine one 😉

      Best wishes

    1. I remember my singing teacher suggesting I keep notes on each song on an index card in a box. I will try to set up a computer database with them in so that I can put my favourite You Tube clips in with the notes and pictures, I am a much better visual learner than just reading reams of text. I’ll see what I can do about recording it or get my Dad to at the concert :).

      Best wishes

  5. Hello Charlotte, What a beautiful post! Rusalka is very special to me. Thank you very much for the images in your post and the video of Renee Fleming performing this exquisite aria. Looking forward to hearing your rendition!

  6. This is one of the songs that make me wish I was a soprano and able to sing this. xD But alas, I am not.
    Lovely pictures from the scenery, they really add to the feeling while listening to this song. 🙂 Lookin forward to your version of “Song to the Moon”. 🙂

      1. It was last week, but thank you. 🙂 It went really well. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a video from it at the end of this week. 🙂

        All the best,

  7. What a wonderful post! I greatly appreciate the thrilling, numinous set designs–I love theatre–and the Renee Fleming clip. I must post another poem this week. Perhaps ‘Moon Over the Lost City…?’

    1. Thanks for visiting and I am glad that you enjoyed this song, it is such an emotional piece 🙂
      By the way I loved the pictures on your blog, Scotland has some lovely scenery and the early evening skies can be truly beautiful 🙂

      Best wishes

  8. One of my all time favourite arias. It really set alight my imagination as a child listening to it. Thank you for sharing your research. It has really brightened my day.

    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the rendition by Renee Fleming 🙂 I would love to think that one day my performance of this song will evoke similar emotions to those that you have so beautifully expressed.

      Best wishes

    1. Hi Koko, its lovely to hear from you again I know you’ve been really very busy so I appreciate you dropping in 😉 . If you ever get around to writing that novel Koko you can have the cover with pleasure.

      Best wishes

      1. I have written such a novel! We’ve been battling illness here for all of October and now creeping into November! I miss blogging but happy at least I can read your stories!

  9. I love this song! I can’t wait to hear your recording of it, Charlotte. As I’ve mentioned, I usually sing more light opera than regular opera, but your post reminded me that this is one of the “grand opera” arias I need to tell my teacher that I want to add to my repertoire!–besides Juliette’s Waltz Song “Je Veux Vivre” from Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette.” Have you ever performed that one?

    Have a wonderful day, and keep singing!

    1. Hi Cate, I’ve not learnt ‘Je Veux Vivre’ I’ll have a listen, thanks for the suggestion. I have had a great day thank you. I’ve been rehearsing most of my weekend repertoire and for the Scots Song competition on the 19th November. I caught the train from Glasgow this evening and caught the later train because it was £20 less expensive so I hope these replies go on ok 🙂

      Best wishes

  10. I have only come to Rusalka in the last few years. This aria is a dream, but the opera is tricky to direct successfully. We saw the wonderful Glyndebourne production live (and on TV as well) and then the following year at the ROH (not so good). I look forward to hearing you do this sometime, though Renée Fleming will be a hard act to follow!

    1. At my age Renee Fleming is an impossible act to follow 😉 I hope I haven’t raised expectations for tomorrow lol 😉 The Opera Department at my Conservatoire have the opera ‘The Return of Ulysses’ by Monteverdi on in the Opera Studio this week it was sold out. I was supposed to go to watch on Tuesday but assisted back stage with the Surtitles instead when my friend fell poorly. Rusalka has such a brilliant song at the start but then loses her voice, did the performer playing Rusalka dance in the staging you saw?

      Best wishes

  11. Thought Id check how things are going and see you are singing song to the moon it is one of my favourites would be in my 8 to take to my desert island and what a fabulous photo.see you soon

    1. Hi Maurice, will I see you tomorrow in Grindleford? If not I looking forward to meeting up again in Bowdon, I understand I’ll be performing ‘Song to the Moon’ with the Brass band; I’ll also be performing O Holy Night, Stille Nacht, and O Mio Babbino Caro I think. Glad you like the photo, little bit moody for me 😉 he he

      Best wishes

  12. Much success in your performance on Nov. 30th. Thank you for sharing the images of the stunning sets. I look forward to hearing you! To happy days! (And thank you for your recents visits to my blog.)

    1. I’ll be giving the song an outing tomorrow in Derbyshire with a piano backing track just to add a bit more challenge to an already challenging piece 😉 you’re welcome.

      All the best

    1. My Dad did the picture, he helped my big brother Matt learn how to use Photoshop for a school enterprise project about seven years ago then learnt some new tricks off my younger brother when he did Graphics at GCSE I love what he does with my posters.

      Best wishes

  13. What a beautiful, inspired concept for the sets of Rusalka. “Song to the Moon” is one of my favorite arias. I saw the opera years ago at the Metropolitan. The music is glorious. I’ve never forgotten the sets in the performance at the Met, which were verdant and lush and lit by moonlight. A wonderful story, so open to interpretation from every able. Looking forward to hearing your recording! Thanks for reviving a cherished memory!

      1. So lovely. Thank you for uploading your interpretation of this beautiful aria. I am especially struck by your take on the final line. You seem to have mixed wistful yearning with defiance, as if willing the moon to not disappear. Loved that.

  14. Hello 🙂 as someone mention before, I ve heard Song to the moon from Anna Netrebko and I was simply charmed by Rusalka… How can she offer such sacrifice for such unstable love… Is the forgiveness deserved in the end?

    I am really happy about you ll sing that too:). Czech is a difficult language I know that as native speaker. I cant even wait to listen to Your record.

    Oh, I am sorry if I am late, but * happy birthday to you * 🙂 !



    1. Hi Lukáš, it truly is a lovely opera, but I am not sure that I would give up my voice so quickly 🙂

      I would love it if you could take a listen to my version when I can post a copy, as it would be great to see what a native speaking Czech thinks of my pronunciation 🙂

      Best Wishes

  15. Hello,
    I do not listen to classical music much, but I am Czech and Rusalka
    is a Czech opera and I think Milada Subrtova (in 1961) gave the
    best rendition of the famous Song to the Moon ever. Netrebko and Fleming may
    have a better voice but their rendition is too dramatic and they have not
    the best Czech pronunciation. The song is at just
    type two words. Rusalka Subrtova and then listen.
    Jan Czech Republic

      1. Hi Charlotte,
        hope you liked or will like Subrtova’s rendition. And if you like it
        you should also sometimes listen to Vodnik’s (water sprite) lament
        by famous Czech bass singer Eduard Haken. Again just type Rusalka
        Haken at youtube. It is black and white. You will definitely like it. I live about
        10 miles from the place (forests) where opera Rusalka was born (where Dvorak
        worked on it. Since there my passion for Rusalka.
        best wishes to your singing (of course especially of Rusalka)

      2. I see what you mean Jan, there is definitely more intensity behind each singular word, which can be more important than just a beautiful tone. A great example of what I’ve been working on recently. Did you listen to my version with the Milnrow Brass Band, it was our first run through so could have been more rehearsed but I’d appreciate your feedback, there is a link now at the bottom of the post.
        Best wishes

  16. Hi Charlotte,
    finally I found your Rusalka and liked it a lot. You did a great work on pronunciation,
    it is really good. Comparing with other foreign renditions I liked your Rusalka more
    than Fleming’s but Netrebko’s is still a bit better (smile). And I loved your other
    songs especially Danny Boy.
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Jan Fleming and Netrebko are just such fabulous singers I’m pleased to even have my name mentioned in the same paragraph ;). Thanks for your kind words, did you see my other Czech piece Songs My Mother Taught Me? This is a newer piece for me and I’m still working on it.
      Best wishes

  17. Hi Charlotte,
    I have found out you are going to sing Rusalka again so I wish you good luck.
    As I said your Czech is remarkably good but allow me make 2 small notes which
    might improve your performance.
    Best wishes Jan

    1. Thanks for your pronunciation advice I’ve made a note to practise this week. I will re listen to Subrtova’s rendition too thanks for introducing me to it 😉
      Best wishes

  18. This was my first experience hearing Czech sung. (I have heard it spoken but never sung.) Your voice is so lovely in any language. This is such a lovely song. I’ve heard a lot of Dvorak before but never this one. You continue to inspire and delight me. Thank you for sharing. May you have a long and illustrious career.

  19. Charlotte, do you know where we can get the music score in Italian? I will be singing song to the moon at my next competition and I love the Italian rendition.

    1. I don’t have it in Italian Mia I can recommend Forsyths in Manchester (they’re online) for scores 😊. If I get the opportunity I’ll look at the library.
      Best wishes

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