Archives For Dvorak

I have previously written about one of my favourite songs: Rusalka’s “Mesicku na nebi hlubokem,” (Song to the Moon) from the Opera by Antonín Dvořák showing images of the stage sets and Renee Fleming’s beautiful version.  The song is sung by a plaintive girl longing for love calling on the moon to tell her Prince of her love.

Pascal Barnier sent me a lovely image below and I decided to do a little bit more research into the folklore behind the character.

Pascal-Rusalka-Song-To-The-Moon

In the opera Rusalka’s father is a water goblin called Vodnik and there is a witch called Jezibaba who transforms Rusalka into a human at the cost of her voice.  Rusalka’s lover the Prince, betrays her, dooming them both.  I’d love to see an Opera about the younger Rusalka before she fell for the Prince with the last Act a contracted version of the original opera to show just how much she gives up for her love.

Here is my performance of the aria from this year’s “Voice Of The Future” competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod if you haven’t had the chance to see it.

Rusalka is a water nymph a female spirit whose origins can be traced to the Slavic folklore (Eastern Europe). The name comes from the eastern Slavic русалка ( meaning red haired girl ) and has taken on the meaning mermaid in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. In western Slavic folklore there are stories based on spirits called víla in Czech or Slovak and wiła in Polish.

water_nymph_by_AvantFae

Folklore tells us that generally, the rusalka couldn’t completely stand out of water, half woman half fish, some stories say that she could climb trees or sit on a dock with her feet/flippers in the water combing her hair, sometimes the rusalka is depicted as wood nymph usually during the summer the rusalka would join in circle dances in groups.

Vila

Some dark tales tell of rusalki who like to play games, despising other women and only showing themselves to attack or take away their men.  Her purpose was to lure young men, seduced by her looks or voice, into the depths of the water to destroy him.

hylas_and_the_water_nymphs-Henrietta-Rae

These stories are found all over the world, in Brazilian mythology Iara or Yara are sirens or mermaids.  Depicted as beautiful females who lead men to their deaths singing to them whilst combing her hair.  Once under Iara’s spell the victim would leave anything to live with her underwater forever, she is immortal but he grows old.

The-Mermaids-Rock-by-Edward-Hale,-1894

These same myths are represented in stories of mermaids going back thousands of years.  Greek sirens were first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey they were sea-nymphs who had the power to charm by song, unhappy mariners were irresistibly drawn to the depths of the sea to their doom.  Many medieval sailors claimed to have seen them.  The mermaids described by Columbus were said to be the marine creatures called manatees.In British folklore they can be bringers of bad luck causing bad storms and drowning men.  In some tales they marry and live with humans such as the Merrow from Scotland.

mermaids

 

Do you know of any other similar folk tales about these water nymphs?

I am on holiday this week and my Mum has told me to put my iPad and phone away and enjoy a break! So in preparation before I left I sent my Dad some pictures taken in Llangollen, North Wales last Wednesday and Thursday for my blog post tonight along with the text which he promised he would upload for me.

My programme included:
Endless Pleasure, Endless Love by Handel
Gretchen am Spinnrade
by Schubert
Zueignung by Strauss
And finally my parents favourite
Song to the Moo
n by Dvorak

Here are the pictures

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Outside the venue for the first round of the “Over 18’s Vocal Solo” competition.

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The view across the river from my hotel room.

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There is a lovely steam railway that runs along the valley from Llangollen.

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My Nana and Grandad who came to watch and cheer us on.

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George Todica at the piano for me in the final of the “Voice Of The Future”.

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Enjoying the moment

Songs My Mother Taught Me It is the fourth of seven songs from Dvorak’s cycle Gypsy Songs (Czech:Cigánské melodie), The Gypsy Songs are set to poems by Adolf Heyduk in both Czech and German. This song, in particular, has achieved widespread fame and has been recorded by many famous female singers.

This is my interpretation of the song which I sang at this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition in Blackburn. George Todica accompanied me during the competition and I hope that you like the performance.
I loved preparing this song and tried my best to get the correct feeling and colour into the Czech lyrics and to my Czech friends that listen please let me know how I could improve my pronunciation 🙂

The original Czech lyrics

Když mne stará matka zpívat, zpívat učívala,
podivno, že často, často slzívala.
A teď také pláčem snědé líce mučím,
když cigánské děti hrát a zpívat, hrát a zpívat učím!
The English transalation of the lyrics

Songs my mother taught me, In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children, each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

Photo-Ferrier