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Dvorák’s opera Rusalka reaches extraordinary heights of melodic eloquence. Rusalka is also the most consciously ‘through-composed’ of Dvorák’s operas but this does not prevent Czech opera’s most famous aria the ineffably beautiful ‘Song to the Moon’, being frequently extracted from the score and sung as a stand alone aria. Sometimes thought of as a ‘one aria opera’, this is just one of many glorious arias for Rusalka, among them the moving first-act plea, ‘Your ancient wisdom everyone knows’ (‘Staleta moudrost tva vsechno vi’), made to the witch Jezibaba asking her to make her human, and her desolate lament ‘Robbed of my youth’ (‘Mladosti sve pozbavena’) at the start of Act 3.
Rusalka is by no means a mainstay in the operatic oeuvre but this new 2009 production and recording from Glyndebourne is destined to put this much overlooked masterpiece to the forefront of romantic repertory.
The recording is aided by a stellar cast. Ana María Martínez’s astonishing humanity shines through in her heart rending portrayal of Rusalka, burly tenor Brandon Jovanovich is a handsome Prince, with real Slavic flavour added with Mischa Schelomianski as Rusalka’s wise old father Vodnik, and Larissa Diadkova as the evil witch Ježíbaba, both giving exemplary performances, with Czech conductor Jirí Belohlávek and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, giving the music a wonderful emotional intensity at all the right moments.
‘There’s little doubt that it’s the conductor Jirí Belohlávek who is really in charge, and under his loving direction the London Philharmonic plays with luscious warmth.’ Guardian July 2009
‘… Jirí Belohlávek, whose intent is not merely to conduct the piece but to honour it as a treasured part of his heritage … we’re talking a very special alchemy around what we hear, see, and feel.’ Independent July 2009
‘With a cast who sing with unbridled passion, the tragic depth of Dvorák’s music is fully plumbed.’ The Times July 2009
Hou, Hou, Hou
I Pekne Vítám
Sem Casto Prichází A V Objetí Mé Stoupá
Mesícku Na Nebi Hlubokém
Ta Voda Studí! Jezíbabo, Jezíbabo
Staletá Moudrost Tvá Vsechno Ví
Tvoje Moudrost Vsechno Tusí
Cury Mury Fuk
Jel Mladý Lovec
Vidino Divná, Presladká
Necitelná Vodní Moci
Aj, Aj? Uz Jsi Se Navrátila?
Vyrnána Zivotu V Hlubokou Samotu
Ze Se Bojis? Tresky, Plesky
Mám, Zlaté Vlásky Mám
Bílá Moje Lani!
Milácku, Znás Mne, Znás
Líbej Mne, Líbej, Mír Mi Prej
1st June 2010
“Belohlávek's conducting [is]...full of warmth, exuberance and humour, and lifting the London Philharmonic to great heights in the tragedy of the final act...[Martinez's] Rusalka is a moving portrayal of a wide-eyed innocent doomed to disillusion, sung with impassioned sincerity.”
6th June 2010
“Ana Maria Martinez’s Rusalka...gives one of the most ecstatic accounts of the famous Song to the Moon on disc. She is well partnered by Brandon Jovanovich’s Prince...displaying a virile young heroic tenor of limitless potential, especially moving in his yearning Liebestod...An unmissable classic.”
8th July 2010
“...there is a sensational performance by Ana María Martínez and authoritative conducting from Jirí Belohlávek.”
“[Martinez is] a near-ideal heroine...naively yearning and tragically resigned, with an unforced sense of pathos...Jovanovich's Prince sounds equally young, his ardent tenor conveying impulsiveness rather than callous cruelty...The splendid mezzo Larissa Diadkova creates an unexaggerated but bloodcurdling Jezibaba”
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