Music of Moonstruck

That's Amore

That's Amore

The Full Moon and a Night at the Opera

             Moonstruck features many different types of music. Pop music like That’s Amore from Dean Martin and It Must be Him from Vikki Carr, music from Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme and the score from film composer Dick Hyman. Moonstruck is a modern film but in many aspects it is like an opera. It deals with an ever- present theme in most operas, yearning and consuming love. If life is like an opera, then film is the perfect medium to portray that medium. And after all the film is about an Italian family. Who better to sing opera than Italians right? From the film documentary about the music, Hyman and director Norman Jewison emphasize that every character in Moonstruck is a different part of an opera and has a different aria to sing. The compilation of opera, pop music, and the score create the new basis for a modern day opera.

The screenwriter, John Patrick Shanley wrote the screenplay bearing in mind that life is often like an opera. From this the audience gathers that Loretta Castorini is the soprano, Ronny Camererri the tenor, Johnny Camererri the baritone, Cosmo Castorini the bass, Rose Castorini the contralto, and Grandpa Castorini the Greek chorus.  Though the characters are not singing themselves there are songs that become personal leitmotifs. Each song attaches itself to a character or couple and becomes that character’s unsung song.

Dean Martin’s song ‘That’s Amore’ opens and closes the film as the quintessential Italian-American family and song. The first line also suits the film itself, ‘when the moon hits your eye…that’s amore’ which foreshadows what happens the night of the full moon in New York City between all the couples within the film: Ronny and Loretta, Cosmo and Rose, Uncle Raymond and Aunt Rita, and Grandpa and his dogs. Who would want to walk that many dogs in New York City. (Major pooper scooper problems!). 

When the moon hits your eye

Like a big-a pizza pie

That's amore

When the world seems to shine

Like you've had too much wine

That's amore

Bells'll ring



And you'll sing "Vita bella"

Hearts'll play



Like a gay tarantella

When the stars make you drool

Joost-a like pasta fazool

That's amore

When you dance down the street

With a cloud at your feet, you're in love

When you walk in a dream

But you know you're not dreamin', signore

'Scusami, but you see

Back in old Napoli, that's amore

Vikki Carr It Must be Him

Love in N.Y.

That’s Amore also becomes theme song for New York City, especially with the opening location shots of New York City with a full moon shining down. That’s Amore narrates the opening scene by localizing the audience in New York, hints at the ethnicity of Italian- American, but also at the lightheartedness of Moonstruck.

As That’s Amore signifies New York City and the Italian American family, It Must be Him by Vikki Carr is the 'leitmotif' for Cosmo and Rose Castorini. Carr’s big hit song in 1967 reflects a sense of longing for youthful yearnings. Cosmo is going through a mid- life crisis thinking that he’s an old man about to die, which suits the last line of the verses, ‘and then I die.’ Vikki Carr’s voice is very powerful and suits an Italian- American family who are known for possessing powerful and loud voices. (Trust me on this for those of you who don't have Italian Families.) It Must be Him also suits Cosmo because the song it sung by a woman. Due to Cosmo’s fear of death, he’s having an affair trying to regain his youth by ‘playing the field.’ It Must be Him also suits Rose because she is trying to find ways to reach her husband and understand what's bothering him. Rose also has a chance encounter with a gentleman at a restaurant, but she rejects his attempts at flirtation, staying true to her husband Cosmo knowing that ‘It must be Him’.

Opera Stars Netrebko & Villazon

Arias and Amore

Arias from Puccini’s opera La Boheme, are used much more so for the two main protagonists Ronny and Loretta. Together two different arias signify their relationship: O Soave Fanciulla and Donde Lieta Usci. Both are equally passionate and yearning. O soave fanciulla signifies that the only thing in Ronny and Loretta's world at this moment is each other. Love overpowers all other emotions and neither Ronny nor Loretta let anything stand in the way. The aria is played twice in the film. Ronny and Loretta have only met that afternoon, but they are immediately attracted to each other. All of a sudden Ronny pushes the table over, grabs Loretta and passionately kisses her. They proceed to make love while the aria plays in the background signifying again that the film is mirroring an opera by highlighting when the lovers come together.

In the opera La Boheme the two main protagonists, Rodolfo and Mimi, sing O soave fanciulla, as they become acquainted and quickly Rodolfo knows that he’s in love with Mimi. The aria reflects their new- found love.


Oh! sweet little lady! Oh, sweetest vision,

with moonlight bathing your pretty face!

The dream that I see in you is the dream I'll always dream!


(Oh, you rule alone, Love!)

Deep in my soul trembles the deepest of passions, etc.

Our kisses shudder with love!

(How gently now his words of praise make their way

into my heart...You rule alone, oh love!)

No, I beg you! You're mine now! Your friends are still waiting.

So soon must I leave you? I would like...I can't say it...

Speak! What if I went along? What? Mimi!

How sweet instead to stay behind here. It's freezing outside.

I'd be right beside you! What about later? Who knows, sir?

Take my arm, my dear young lady...As you say, my dear sir...

Do you love me, say! I certainly do.

O soave fanciulla is heard again when Loretta is walking back home after her night at the opera with Ronny. While Loretta walks down the street carelessly kicking a soda can signifying her carefree mood, the aria plays diegetically. Loretta’s movements match the song so well, that it seems like Loretta is singing the aria herself, every movement signifying that she's in love. While opera is not known to always have perfect moments Ronny and Loretta’s other aria represents the moments of their relationship when other forces are infringing on them.

Donde lieta uscì, acts as the troubled love aria. In La Boheme, donde lieta usci is Mimi’s aria when she tries to leave Rodolfo due to her consumption. Mimi wants to leave Rodolfo so he can have a happy life, without watching her die. Mimi and Rodolfo plan to part but their love for each other is too strong. A brief snippet of the aria is played during the first shot of Ronny’s apartment letting the audience know that Ronny likes opera and then on a deeper level signifying how lonely Ronny and Loretta are inside and yearning for true love. Like in La Boheme, this song represents another facet of Ronny and Loretta’s relationship where they let other factors into their relationship. Mimi allows her consumption to act as a reason for separation between she and Rodolfo. Loretta may love and yearn for Ronny; she still feels a responsibility to Johnny and promises herself and Ronny that after this evening at the opera they are not to see each other again mirroring when Mimi says she and Rodolfo must part ways. Donde lieta usci is the only scene of La Boheme shown to the audience, because the aria represents Loretta’s actions to push Ronny out of her life even though he is her true love. The scene is ultimately the most powerful while Loretta is silently crying, Ronny kisses her hand and they look at each other both trying to enjoy their ‘last moments’ together. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful song that will make you cry wishing love is strong enough to survive anything.

Whence happy leaving

To your cry of love,

Returns alone Mimi

To solitary nest.

Returns another time

To weave together false flowers.

Goodbye, without resentment.

Listen, listen.

The little things gather

That I have left scattered about

In my drawer

Are enclosed that gold band

And a book of prayers.

Wrap everything much in a smock

And I will send the concierge...

Pay attention, on the pillow

There is a pink bonnet

If you want, keep a memory of love!

Goodbye, without resentment.

One of Pavarotti's Best

Ronny’s passionate speech to Loretta is also similar to Rodolfo’s aria in La Boheme. Che gelida manina represents a man urging the woman he loves to love him back. On screen Ronny tells Loretta that he loves her, but not in a typical way because in a way he’s breaking all her illusions of love. While Ronnie raises his, the aria functions anempathetically, but also making Ronny’s angst another form of desperate passion, because this scene is meant to be a tender moment. The aria also suits Ronny, because the aria is sung by Rodolfo; portraying the male point of view. The lyrics match the scene as Ronny and Loretta are out in the cold and Ronny reaches his hand out to Loretta, while the moon above shines down on the lovers. Their actions mirror the lyrics, from the hand holding to Ronny’s speech of accepting the love they have for each other and the moon above them.

What a frozen little hand,

let me warm it for you.

What’s the use of looking?

We won't find it in the dark.

But luckily

it’s a moonlit night,

and the moon

is near us here.

As the moon plays a character in Moonstruck, its theme is Quando m’en vo also from La Boheme. Dick Hyman arranges the well-known aria, thus portraying a new side to the modern opera. The moon plays a powerful role in the film looking over New York City, like the force pushing lovers together. The lyrics of Quando m’en vo suit the full moon describing how ‘people stop and stare at me’ and ‘the sly yearning which escapes from their eyes.’ This scene has all the different couples looking up at the moon giving the scene an other- worldly element.

When I go along watching over all the couples. When I walk,
When I walk alone in the street,
People stop and stare at me
And everyone looks at my beauty,
Looks at me,
 From head to foot...And then I relish the sly yearning,
which escapes from their eyes
 and which is able to perceive my most hidden beauties.
Thus the scent of desire is all around me,
and it makes me happy, makes me happy! And you who know, who remember and yearn
 you shrink from me? I know it very well:
 you do not want to express your anguish, I know so well that you do not want to express it 
but you feel as if you are dying!

Moonstruck successfully blends different types of music that together produce a modern day opera. Using variety of songs like ‘It must be Him’ and Donde lieta usci it shows how versatile music can be and that they fit together given the right circumstances. A modern opera does not need people singing as long as the prerecorded song suits whatever that character feels or is motivated by. All the music together creates a little world in New York City where an opera setting is real and people are characters in the opera singing their own personal aria. Just as we all have our own song to sing...

Full Opera Scene in Moonstruck

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Comments 13 comments

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

Lots of great details in this hub, Kendall! For me, the best part of Moonstruck was the music. I like how you've explained how all the different types of music are blended. Well done!

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA Author

Thanks Rose! It's just a great movie in general. I never stop laughing when Cher says 'snap out of it!.' Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment! :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Kendall I don't think I have seen this movie, but now I have the song Amore going round and round my head!! ha ha sounds great. thanks again. nell

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA Author

I definitely recommend Moonstruck! It's a great film. You'll love it! Hopefully Dean doesn't drive you crazy with Amore. :) Thanks for the comment!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Kendall, it has been way too long since I've seen this wonderful movie. You make me want to see it again, and this time pay attention to the music. What a great hub.

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA Author

Thanks Dolores! Glad you liked it! It is a fantastic movie that each time I watch I find out something new. The music is just one of those bonuses. :)

missmaudie profile image

missmaudie 6 years ago from Brittany, France

I've never seen Moonstruck but you've certainly whetted my appetite Kendall H. A really well laid out hub, great stuff!

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA Author

Hi missmaudie! Glad you liked it! Moonstruck is a great film. I'm sure you'll like it!

jerseyjoe 6 years ago

can someone please tell me the names of the dogs that pop called out when he used to have walk them?one dog would be

called when they were walked by grandpa.Please if you know

please e-mail me asap,because its drivin me crazy!

Thanks so much ,have a great day,hope to hear from some

-one soon.

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA Author

Hi jerseyjoe! Sorry I tried to find the names of the dogs that grandpa walks but couldn't find it anywhere. I'll try to look some more. Thanks for reading and commenting!

jamiesweeney profile image

jamiesweeney 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

Very interesting hub, Lots detail, thanks for share.

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 5 years ago from Northern CA Author

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it jamiesweeney!

Robert bundy 4 years ago

Who actually sang the arias frm la bohemia?

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