The Opera Portal
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.
Vocal score to the 1916 version of Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne on Naxos) is an opera by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Bringing together slapstick comedy and consummately beautiful music, the opera's theme is the competition between high and low art for the public's attention. Music critic and author Matt Dobkin wrote that, while Ariadne auf Naxos is "not as well loved as Der Rosenkavalier or as important as Salome, it is nevertheless staged all the time, thanks in large part to sopranos' attraction to the vocal and dramatic grandeur of the title role and to the compelling spitfire Zerbinetta character."
In this month
- 15 October 1932 – San Francisco Opera inaugurated the new War Memorial Opera House with a performance of Tosca. Claudia Muzio (pictured) sang the title role.
- 18 October 1810 – The celebrated Italian tenor Mario (Cavalier Giovanni Matteo de Candia, Marquis of Candia) was born in Cagliari.
- 19 October 1701 – La púrpura de la rosa, the first known opera to be composed and performed in the Americas, premiered at the Viceroy's Palace in Lima, Peru.
- 20 October 1973 – The Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
- 22 October 1987 – John Adams' opera Nixon in China had its world premiere at the Houston Grand Opera in a production by Peter Sellars with choreography by Mark Morris.
- 24 October 1948 – Franz Lehár, the composer of The Merry Widow, died in Bad Ischl, Austria.
- 27 October 1922 – Rita Fornia, the soprano who created the role of the Abbess in Puccini's Suor Angelica, died in Paris at the age of 44.
- 29 October 1787 – Mozart's opera Don Giovanni had its world premiere at the Estates Theatre in Prague, with Luigi Bassi in the title role.
, better known under the stage name Lays
(14 February 1758 – 30 March 1831), was a French baritone
opera singer. Originally destined for a career in the church, he was recruited by the Paris Opéra
in 1779 and soon became a leading member of the company, in spite of quarrels with the management. Lays enthusiastically welcomed the French Revolution
and became involved in politics with the encouragement of his friend Bertrand Barère
. Barère's downfall led to Lays being imprisoned briefly, but he soon won back the public and secured the patronage of Napoleon
, at whose coronation and second wedding he sang. His association with the Emperor caused him trouble when the Bourbon monarchy was restored and Lays's final years were darkened by disputes over his pension, mounting debts, the death of his only son and his wife's illness. After a career spanning more than four decades, he died in poverty.
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