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Portal:Opera

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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 was championed by Claudio Monteverdi with works such as L'Orfeo. It 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.

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Théâtre des Nouveautés-Fatinitza-1879.jpg
Fatinitza was the first full-length, three-act operetta by Franz von Suppé. The libretto by F. Zell (a pseudonym for Camillo Walzel) and Richard Genée was based on the libretto to La circassienne by Eugène Scribe (which had been set to music by Daniel Auber in 1861) but with the lead role of Wladimir, a young Russian lieutenant who has to disguise himself as a woman named Fantinitza, changed to a trousers role; in other words, a woman played the part of the man who pretended to be a woman. It premièred on 5 January 1876, at the Carltheater Vienna with Antonie Link (1853-1931) in the title role and proved a huge success, running for more than a hundred performances, with the march "Vorwärts mit frischem Muth", proving a particular hit.

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A scene from Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin, as performed at its London première in 1875. The story, part of the Knight of the Swan tradition, is taken from medieval German romances, including a secondary plot in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and the main plot of its sequel, Lohengrin, and the epic of Garin le Loherain which inspired it. The opera was first performed on 28 August 1850 at the Staatskapelle Weimar conducted by Franz Liszt. Several excerpts have become famous, most notably "Treulich geführt" from act 3, scene 1, commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride".

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Senesino

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Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875) was a French composer, mainly of operas. In a career cut short by his early death, he achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, became one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory. During a brilliant student career at the Paris Conservatoire he won many prizes, including the Prix de Rome. He was also recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public. Returning to Paris after almost three years in Italy, he found that the main Parisian opera theatres preferred the established classical repertoire to the works of newcomers. His career stalled and he earned his living mainly by arranging and transcribing the music of others. Restless for success, he began many theatrical projects during the 1860s, most of which were abandoned. After his death his musical legacy, apart from Carmen, was generally neglected. He founded no school and had no obvious disciples or successors. After years of neglect his works began to be performed more frequently in the 20th century. Later commentators have acclaimed him as a composer of brilliance and originality whose premature death was a significant loss to French musical theatre.

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Giuseppe Verdi
I deny that either singers or conductors can "create" or work creatively – this, as I have always said, is a conception that leads to the abyss.

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A polacca from Le trompeur trompé, an 1800 opéra comique by Pierre Gaveaux and François Bernard-Valville. Performed on historical instruments, with Montserrat Alavedra as Agathe.

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Enrico Caruso

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Opera history: Origins of opera • Italian opera • Opera in German • French opera • Opera in English • Polish opera • Russian opera • Hungarian opera • Armenian opera • Opera in Latin America

Opera topics

Opera genres: Azione teatrale · Ballad opera · Comédie en vaudevilles · Comédie mêlée d'ariettes · Dramma giocoso · Dramma per musica · Farsa · Festa teatrale · Género chico · Grand Opera · Music Drama · Opéra-ballet · Opera buffa · Opéra bouffe · Opéra bouffon · Opéra comique · Opéra féerie · Opera semiseria · Opera seria · Operetta · Pastorale héroïque · Romantische Oper · Savoy opera · Semi-opera · Singspiel · Spieloper · Tragédie en musique · Verismo · Zarzuela · Zeitoper

Opera terms: Aria · Aria di sorbetto · Arioso · Bel canto · Breeches role · Burletta · Cabaletta · Cadenza · Cantabile · Castrato · Cavatina · Chest voice · Claque · Coloratura · Comprimario · Convenienze · Coup de glotte · Da capo aria · Diva · Entr'acte · Fach · Falsetto · Fioritura · Gesamtkunstwerk · Head voice · Intermezzo · Kammersänger · Leitmotif · Legato · Libretto · Literaturoper · Mad scene · Maestro · Melodrama · Melodramma · Monodrama · Messa di voce · Opera house · Passaggio · Portamento · Prima donna · Prompter · Recitative · Regietheater · Répétiteur · Sitzprobe · Spinto · Sprechgesang · Squillo · Stagione · Surtitles · Tessitura · Timbre · Vibrato

Opera voices: Baritenor · Baritone · Bass · Bass-baritone · Coloratura soprano · Contralto · Countertenor · Dramatic soprano · Haute-contre · Lyric soprano · Mezzo-soprano · Soprano · Soubrette · Spinto soprano · Tenor · Tenore contraltino · Tenore di grazia

Opera lists: Opera topics • List of operas by composer • Important operas • Major opera composers • Opera librettists • Opera houses • Opera companies • Opera festivals • Opera directors • Operetta composers • Orphean operas • Zarzuela composers • Opera genres • Operas set in the Crusades • The Record of Singing • Bayreuth canon

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