What served as the literary source for the earliest operas? Who was the first audience for opera?
Greek mythology and tragedies served as the first literary source for the early operas. The first audience was rich aristocrats like Dukes they want to show off their money by having these operas performed in their palaces.
By the time of Mozart, things had changed. What kind of plots do 18th-century operas have? Where were these operas performed?
The plots of 18th century operas were of recent play which dealt with current problems and circumstances. These operas were performed in Paris and Vienna. In public opera houses
In the nineteenth century. What new subjects did artists explore?
In the 19th century the subject of political nationalism was explored because it became ascendant. People wished a reminder of their own immediate or remote past.
According to Knapp, what are the two “essential” components of opera throughout history?
The two essential components of opera throughout history are the human singing voice and the orchestra.
Does the opera orchestra accompany the voice, or is it an equal partner?
The orchestra accompanies the voice in an opera both are equal partners
Along with dance, what other elements does Knapp name as part of operatic spectacle?
Knapp names the mise-en-scene or stage production of an opera as one of its most important elements.Also costumes,lighting,props or effects
Generally speaking, what is the difference between opera and other genres such as musicals or operettas?
The difference between opera and other genres hinges on whether parts of the text are spoken or sung. Opera being mostly all song
What is Singspiel? (what works does Knapp give as examples?)
Singspiels are operas with spoken dialogue;song play no recitative Knaap gives Mozart’s Die Zauberflote and Beethoven’s Fidelio as examples
What are the two main divisions of singing within opera?
The 2 main divisions of singing in opera are recitative (conversation, dialogue) and arias (lyricism).
What takes longer to unfold: music or words? How does this affect the pacing of the drama?
The music takes longer to unfold than the words. This affects the pacing of the drama because the action usually stops to allow the music to unfold.
What is an overture? (Use the glossary in the back of your book for a concise definition)
The overture is the prelude or introductory orchestral movement of the opera. It was used in the earliest operas to quiet the audience.
What was the original purpose of the overture? What was an overture by Lully like?
It was used in the earliest operas to quiet the audience. Sometimes used to foreshadow the action.
What is a chorus?
A chorus is a body of singers within several people on each vocal part
Who was Arrigo Boito? What reason does Knapp give for why Boito was so good at what he did?
Boito was Verdi’s librettist for Otello and Falstaff. Knapps reason for Boito being so good at what he did was because Boito, himself, was a musician so he understood the problems of musical setting
Who wrote the librettos to Wagner’s operas?
He himself wrote the librettos for his operas because he was both a libretto and a composer.
Knapp describes how the librettist/composer relationship can be difficult. Why is the collaboration difficult
The collaboration between librettist and composers can be difficult because librettists are under pressure to reduce their lines to their barest minimum in order to accommodate composers.
Do librettists expect every word to be heard and understood?
No they don’t because it is inevitable that some of the text will be swept aside by the singer, music, poor staging or the actors. So they accommodate by making sure the dramatic action on stage is clear
What does the word “libretto” mean? Where does it come from?
Libretto mean little book in Italian it came into use because the text of an opera was printed separately for the audience who wished to follow the words during the performance.
What do the artifacts of the opera (old librettos) tell us about who was important in the opera?
The old librettos told us about patrons those who monetarily gave their support; it also mentioned the librettist, the impresario and, sometimes even the printer. If anyone was ever singled out it was the scene designer because his extravagant sets and machinery were key figures in the opera production
Knapp addresses the two main types of opera, seria and buffa. What are the qualities of opera seria
It was rigidly divided into scenes of recitative and da capo arias. Ensembles and choruses were few and the opera revolved around the individual singer and music.
Who tried to “reform” opera seria? What did the “reform” try to do?
Willhelm Christobald Gluck and his librettist Calzabigi tried to reform opera seria. They attempted to rid the plot of subsidiary, complicating action and concentrate on one noble subject with language to fit
Who was Mozart’s most famous librettist
His most famous librettist is Lorenzo da Ponte
What is recitative? (you might cross-check w/the glossary)
A recitative is speech like singing in which a certain amount of freedom in performance is allowed
What is recitativo secco?
A syllabic treatment of the words, rapid reiteration of the same note, a narrow inflection, and an irregular rhythmic structure
What is basso continuo (a.k.a figured bass or Thorough bass)? Where is it used?
Basso continuo is musical shorthand of a figured or unfigured bass line to indicate harmonies played over this line on a keyboard instrument. It is used to accompany musical speech
What is recitativo accompagnato?
It is when an orchestra accompanies a recitativo
How did the recitative/aria divide change in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century?
The problem of writing recitatives disappears because it is the opera. Modern composers do not regard their tasks as one which divides the opera into separate compartments rather he or she seeks a unified approach.
Who invented Sprechstimme? What is it?
Arnold Schonberg and invented Sprechstimme and it is a cross between speech and recitative which uses every musical element except exact pitch
What is an aria? What word does it come from?
An aria is an elaborate song, is generally accompanied by instruments, and is found in operas, oratorios, and cantatas of the last three centuries. Aria is the Italian word for “air
What is the general purpose of an opera aria?
The general purpose of an opera aria is to reflect upon or express an emotion generated by an action.
What does it mean when an aria is “strophic?”
It means that same music is repeated for several stanzas of verse.
What is a da capo aria?
Musically it consists of three parts (ABA), two of which are written out but the third is a repeat of the first part signaled by the sign D.C.
What is a cabaletta?
Originally it was a simple song with a uniform accompaniment and vocal line to match but then the term came to be used for the second section of a two-part aria, the first section of which was fairly plain and deliberate, and the second, longer and in a faster tempo
Up until the first half of the nineteenth century, which national style of opera was dominant all over Europe?
Italy Italian Opera
-Highly Dramatic
-Harmonic structure tends to be simple and uncomplicated
-Emphasize on voice
When did the french opera dominate
first half of the 19th century
France French Opera
-Order and logic
-Incidental Music
-Less Emotion
-About the spectacle
-Lots of people on stage
Grand Opera (french)
5 Acts
Germany German Opera
-Used orchestral color
-Solidity in texture
-love of nature
-folk melodies/folk tales
What does the word “ensemble” mean, and why is that term misleading?
An ensemble is a vocal group of two or more singer who perform together. The designation “together” is misleading because it does not necessarily mean the artists sing simultaneously; they can also sing separately but their voices must have some relation to each other. Duets, trios and quartets are all ensembles.
What is the “danger” in ensemble singing?
The “danger” in ensemble singing is that when two or more people sing together there is a problem of the words being lost and the larger the ensemble the greater the problem.
Are ensembles typically static moments, dynamic moments, or something in between?
Depends on the composer if the composer can write memorable music and keep the action going then it combines the best of both dynamic and static moments.
Do all operas have a chorus?
No some operas have featured the chorus while others have practically ignored it, and others have used it mainly for color and background.
What types of choruses are used in opera?
Most common is the four-part chorus of women’s and men’s voices, but there have also been men’s choruses, women’s choruses, and even double choruses where eight or more parts are realized in the musical texture.
Is it important that the chorus can sing?
It is important that the chorus can sing or else it remains just a crowd.
What three roles can a chorus have in an opera (according to Knapp)?
(1) a participant in, (2) commentator on, or (3) background to the action.
Why did the chorus become popular again in the 1830s and 1840s?
It became popular in the 1830’s and 1840’s with rise of nationalistic sentiment which glorified the “folk” who could join in the action or provide background or local color.
What non-musical factor made the chorus “Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate” from Nabucco become famous during Verdi’s lifetime?
It was taken up by patriotic Italians who heard in it a cry for freedom and independence from the Austrian monarchy.
What are the four main categories of voice?
What are the two middle ranges?
Men voices from high to low
Women voice types high to low
What does the label dramatic mean?
A dramatic voice is heavier, bigger, capable of carrying over the orchestra by itself or in an ensemble
What is a coloratura soprano?
A coloratura soprano is the highest voice. A genuine coloratura has an unmistakable light, birdlike quality to her voice. She often sounds much like a flute or piccolo, and these instruments often are given music to accompany her.
What kind of roles do lyric sopranos usually receive?
Voices of young womanhood or of youthful heroine. Terms often used are soubrette and spinto.
What qualities does a dramatic soprano voice have?
Takes on heavier and darker hue of a mezzo or a contralto it generally is a big voice with very full medium and low tones.
What does “mezzo-soprano” mean? What is the most famous role for mezzo?
Mezzo-soprano in Italians means half or middle. The most famous role for a mezzo is Carmen.
What kind of roles do contraltos usually receive?
Operatic contraltos are generally assigned matronly roles—mothers, elderly women, middle-aged queens.
What role does the tenor usually have in an opera?
Usually role of a hero; serio-comic figure.
What roles does a bass usually receive?
Older roles—a father, a dignified king, an elderly priest, a general of the army.
What was a castrato singer? Why do early operas (Gluck, Handel, Monteverdi) cause casting problems today?
A male castrated in youth to maintain a soprano or contralto voice. It causes casting problems because it is rarely used. Since falsetto or head tone cannot produce much volume, it is still not very satisfactory in operatic parts.
What does it mean to have a lyric classification?
a lyric voice is lighter, sweeter, more gentle—it cannot be forced or pushed too far or it loses it quality and becomes shrill and ugly.
Claudio Monteverdi
-Wrote L’Orfeo
-Developed Basso continuo
-Barque Opera
Alessandro Striggio
wrote libretto for Monteverdi’s Orfeo
Vincenzio Gonzaga
-Duke of Mantua
-Hired Monteverdi and had his Opera L’Orfeo performed at his court
George Frederick Handel
-German-British composer
Christoph Willibald Gluck
-Wanted to return opera to its origins, focusing on human drama and passions and making words and music of equal importance.
Lorenzo da Ponte
Mozarts best librettist
Gioachino Rossini
-The Barber of Seville
Jean-Baptise Lully
-Chief Master of French Baroque Opera
-Founder of French Opera
Carl Maria von Weber
-German composer
-Wrote Der Freischutz
Charles Gounod
-French composer
-wrote Faust
Giuseppe Verdi
-Italian Composer
-Wrote Rigoletto
-Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate famous for
Arrigo Boito
-Italian composer
-wrote otello and Falstaff
Richard Wagner
-German Composer
-Wrote both music and libretto
Giacomo Puccini
-Italian composer
-wrote La Boheme
-celebrated Italian Castrato
-greatest singer in the history of opera
Semele (HWV 58)
is a 1744 opera, or oratorio, in three acts by George Frideric Handel, based on the classical myth of Semele, mother of Dionysus.
Marriage of Figaro
is an opera buffa (comic opera) composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte,
Magic Flute
is an opera composed by Mozart. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue.
Der Freischutz
is an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera,especially in its national identity and stark emotionality.
-max is an assistant
-agathe is Cuno’s daughter
-samuel is black huntsman
-Kaspar is an assistant forester
La Boheme
italian opera by Giacomo Puccini
-mimi is the girl
-rodolfo the guy
is a grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod
-mephistopheles is devil or demon in play
The Barber of Seville
is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini
-Division of music into time
-Tempo (relative speed)
-Meter(the pattern of stressed & unstressed beats)
-Tune (part that you sing)
-for Opera we discuss pitch
-Simple or complex
-Quality of consonance & dissonance between 2 pitches
-Major keys make us feel happy
-Minor keys make us feel sad
-Layer of sounds we hear in music
-Monophonic is simplest form
-Polyphonic a musical texture when there is 2 or more voices
-Homo-phonic melody w/ chords supporting it
means tone color
Organization of musical ideas as they move through time
Florentine Camerata
-group of intellectuals
-tried to revive the geek drama
-enhanced w/ music
-primarily for literature