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OPERA – is a combined art – combining a story (the libretto, or “little book”), theater, sometimes dance and music - originally conceived as an attempt to reproduce the effect of Greek drama in a kind of musical speech, called “recitative.” - Performed arts wherein voices follows accents and natural inflections of speech, but in musical tones - early operas were composed largely of recitatives (chanted speech) and were thus limited to musical interest - songs or arias were introduced to break the monotony: solos, duets, trios, quartets, choruses, etc. - the principal distinction between opera and other musical genres – such as the song cycle, oratorio, mass and motet – is the fact that opera tells a story - “Music Dramas” – inaugurated by Wagner is a more unified work, with music and drama of equal importance o The voices and the opera combines to tell a story o The music is continuous; it is not interrupted for set arias and ensembles by the singers TYPES OF OPERA • Grand Opera – always has a serious subject; is usually tragic, and has no spoken dialogue • Comic Opera – any opera having spoken dialogue, whether it is comic or not • Operetta – synonymous with musical comedy (musicals) or light opera; the subject may be tragic or comic, and there is spoken dialogue OTHER IMPORTANT TERMS IN OPERA  Overture – musical introduction played by the orchestra that often consists of melodies from opera  Aria (Italian for “air”) – a piece sung by one person. Arias allow singers to “show off” while reflecting on their emotions; a large song hen a character reveals their thoughts and feelings  Chorus – a passage sung by a group of people  Duet – a passage sung by two people  Trio – a passage sung by 3 people  Colour – the characteristics of the singer’s voice (could be Lyric – sweet, and Dramatic – very strong)  Diva (Italian for Goddess) – a demanding female opera singer  Trouser Role – a male part played by a female singer  Verismo – a gritty, realistic type of opera

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Recitative – speech-like singing that advances the plot and fills spaces between arias and choruses Libretto (known as ‘the little book’) – the written dialogue in opera Stops – points at which set numbers are used to embellish emotionally significant point in the opera Orchestra – supplies a kind of musical comment on the action of the story Vocal line – treated like an orchestral line; often voices that are treated subordinate to the orchestra Action – continuous movement; there is no pause from the beginning of an act to the fall of the curtain Score – has all the musical notes, words and ideas to help the performers tell a story; a book that the composer and the librettist put together Act – the story unfolds through the music that the singers sing, the dancers dance and the orchestra plays Prologue – an introduction (or brief independent play or scene) preceding the opera and summarizes the main action of the work Prelude – an introductory performance in an opera Postlude – a final phase in opera Dafne by Jacopo Peri – the first known work, by modern standards, could be considered an opera L’Orfeo, favola in musica by Claudio Montiverdi – the earliest music drama that evolved into the form of a complete opera.

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