Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work (called an opera) which combines a text (called a libretto) and a musical score. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble.
Opera started in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with Jacopo Peri's lost Dafne, produced in Florence around 1597) and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Schütz in Germany, Lully in France, and Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. However, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, except France, attracting foreign composers such as Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. Today the most renowned figure of late 18th century opera is Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition.
The first third of the 19th century saw the highpoint of the bel canto style, with Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini all creating works that are still performed today. It also saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Meyerbeer. The mid to late 19th century is considered by some a golden age of opera, led by Wagner in Germany and Verdi in Italy. This 'golden age' developed through the verismo era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Puccini and Strauss in the early 20th century. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Bohemia. The 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism (Schoenberg and Berg), Neo-Classicism (Stravinsky), and Minimalism (Philip Glass and John Adams). With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso became known to audiences beyond the circle of opera fans. Operas were also performed on (and written for) radio and television.
(Italian pronunciation: [ˈtoska]
) is an opera
in three acts by Giacomo Puccini
to an Italian libretto
by Luigi Illica
and Giuseppe Giacosa
. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi
on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou's
1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca
, is a melodramatic
piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples
's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy
. It depicts graphic scenes of torture, murder and suicide, yet it contains some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias, and has inspired memorable performances from many of opera's leading singers. Puccini saw Sardou's play when it was touring Italy in 1889 and, after some vacillation, obtained the rights to turn the work into an opera in 1895. Turning the wordy French play into a succinct Italian opera took four years, during which the composer repeatedly argued with his librettists and publisher. While critics have frequently dismissed the opera as a facile melodrama with confusions of plot—musicologist Joseph Kerman
famously called it a "shabby little shocker"—the power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration have been widely acknowledged. The dramatic force of Tosca
and its characters continues to fascinate both performers and audiences, and the work remains one of the most frequently performed operas.
(22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer
, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Some of his notable compositions include the series of nineteen Klavierstücke
(Piano Pieces), Kontra-Punkte
for ten instruments, the electronic/musique-concrète Gesang der Jünglinge
for three orchestras, the percussion solo Zyklus
, the cantata Momente
, the live-electronic Mikrophonie I
for six vocalists, Aus den sieben Tagen
for two pianos and electronics, Tierkreis
for soloists and orchestra, and the gigantic opera cycle Licht