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.
318), sometimes called L'Orfeo, favola in musica
, is an early Baroque
opera by Claudio Monteverdi
, with a text by Alessandro Striggio
. It is based on the Greek legend
, and tells the story of his descent to Hades
and his fruitless attempt to bring his dead bride Eurydice
back to the living world. Written in 1607 for a court performance during the annual Carnival
is one of the earliest music dramas still regularly performed. Within the musical theatre at the beginning of the 17th century the traditional intermedio
—a musical sequence between the acts of a straight play—was evolving into the form of a complete musical drama or "opera". Monteverdi's L'Orfeo
moved this process out of its experimental era, and provided the first fully developed example within the new genre. After its initial performance the work was staged again in Mantua, and possibly in other Italian centres in the next few years. After the composer's death in 1643 the opera remained unperformed, and was largely forgotten until a revival of interest in the late 19th century led to a spate of modern editions and performances. At first these tended to be unstaged versions within institutes and music societies, but following the first modern dramatised performance in Paris, in 1911, the work was seen increasingly in theatres. In 2007 the quatercentenary of the premiere was celebrated by performances throughout the world.
The Fall of Phaeton painted by Rubens in 1604. The myth of Phaeton, whose attempt to drive the sun god's chariot led to his death, was the basis of Lully's 1683 opera Phaëton. Lully's opera was an indirect reference to the fate of Nicolas Fouquet whose ambitions to imitate the King Louis XIV (The Sun King) brought about his downfall.
- 1 September 1854 – The German composer, Engelbert Humperdinck, best known for his opera Hänsel und Gretel, was born in Siegburg.
- 10 September 2009 – Marks the 350th birthday of Henry Purcell (pictured), the composer of some of the earliest English operas including Dido and Æneas, King Arthur, and The Fairy-Queen.
- 14 September 1872 – The Teatro Dal Verme opened in Milan. The theatre saw the world premieres of Puccini's Le Villi in 1884 and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci in 1892.
- 16 September 1977 – The celebrated Greek soprano, Maria Callas, died in Paris at the age of 53.
- 23 September 1835 – The Italian bel canto composer Vincenzo Bellini, whose operas include La sonnambula, I puritani, and Norma, died in Paris at the age of 34.
- 25 September 1886 – Alfred Cellier's comic opera Dorothy premiered at London's Gaiety Theatre with Marion Hood in the title role.
- 28 September 1968 – One of Spain's most famous tenors, Plácido Domingo, made his Metropolitan Opera debut when he substituted for Franco Corelli in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.
- 30 September 1791 – Mozart's opera The Magic Flute received its world premiere at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna.
(25 September 1906–9 August 1975) was a Russian composer
of the Soviet
period. He is best known for his satirical opera The Nose,
(based on the story
) and his cycles of symphonies
and string quartets
, 15 of each. Since his death in 1975, reports about his true personal opinions about life in the USSR have been controversial. While he outwardly conformed with the state and was a public face for state-crafted propaganda
, it is now widely known that he deeply disliked the Soviet regime —a view confirmed by his family, by private letters to Isaak Glikman, and the satirical cantata Anti-Formalist Rayok
, which ridiculed the "anti-formalism" campaign in Soviet arts and was known only to his closest friends until after his death.