Opera: The Art of Emotion

Opera The Art of Emotions By: Anndiva Mandley & Carol Williams July 1, 2014


This presentation explores basic information about opera. It briefly presents its history and evolution. It also presents a brief sample of the six major opera voices (three male and three female). This presentation was used in the backdrop to an oral presentation of the topic in an undergraduate class on Music History and as such it does not go into much detail on the slides. However, it may be useful for general knowledge and for persons seeking points of reference on the topic.

Transcript of Opera: The Art of Emotion

  • Opera The Art of Emotions By: Anndiva Mandley & Carol Williams July 1, 2014
  • What is Opera? Opera is a total art form which combines several expressive media; -Music -Singing -Drama -Poetry -Art (Staging) -Sometimes Dance This complex combination makes an opera performance an extraordinary show, where all human passions are at work.
  • Main Parts of an Opera The Libretto- (Little Book) The script of an opera The Singing- The emotional and intense text sung by the actors The Music- Addresses the audiences heart The Staging- Visual interpretation of the work
  • Historical Development of Opera 17TH CENTURY-BAROQUE PERIOD Born in Italy around the late 16th century A revival of what was thought to be the simplicity of tragedy First major opera still performed today La favola dOrfeo (The Legend of Orpheus); by Monteverdi in 1607 Small instrumental accompaniment punctuated by musical interludes (Music subservient to words) First commercial opera house opened in Venice in 1637 Opera soon spread throughout Europe
  • Historical development of Opera BEL CANTO AND CLASSICAL REFORM Two forms of opera developed in the 18th Century: - Opera Seria (Serious Opera) - Opera Buffa (Comic Opera) Move from highlighting words to highlighting singing -Bel Canto (Beautiful Singing) Singing served the dramatic idea not the reverse Use of choruses and ensembles to stress the collective nature of human emotions
  • Historical development of Opera THE 19TH CENTURY Different traditions developed in different countries Mix of serious and comical traits Subjects drawn from contemporary life and recent history The orchestra became part of the story
  • Historical development of Opera THE 20TH CENTURY: THE RISE OF INDIVIDUALS Individual works rather than general trends appeared Kurt Weill- (German born, American composer) inspired by jazz and other jazz and other popular music Benjamin Britten- (English composer) composed traditional operas and operas and chamber operas
  • Historical development of Opera OPERA TODAY Operas today more varied than ever Staging and setting have become key elements New contemporary operatic themes Great pieces are being reinterpreted and still successful
  • Famous Composers of the Eras ERA COMPOSER NATIONALITY PIECE Claudio Monteverdi Italian L'Orfeo George Frideric Handel German Agrippina Christoph Willibald Gluck German Iphignie en Tauride Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Salzberg (Austria/Germany) Don Giovanni Giuseppe Verdi Italian Rigoletto Wilhelm Richard Wagner German Tristan and Isolde George Gershwin American Porgy and Bess Kurt Weill German Der Jasager Baroque Classical Romantic 20th Century
  • Categories of Opera Voices
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices SOPRANO: Highest feminine voice, that of the biggest roles of the repertoire. Tragic or mythical heroines, but also maids, and other amusing characters
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices MEZZO-SOPRANO: Italian for medium soprano, it is the second highest female voice. With a deeper and warmer voice than the sopranos, the mezzo-soprano usually plays a secondary character such as a mature woman, child-minder, witch, temptress or even young boy - in a nutshell, witches, bitches and breeches.
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices CONTRALTO: Dark, low, noble female voice. Quite rare in opera. It is often associated with characters such as an elderly woman, maid, mother, grandmother or witch
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices TENOR: The highest pitch of men singing in chest voice, and the most popular in opera. Tenor roles are parallel to soprano roles: the hero, the lover, and sometimes the enemy.
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices BARITONE: Half-low male voice Associated with a great variety of characters in the 18th century, and more particularly with the enemy roles in the 19th century
  • Main Categories of Opera Voices BASS: Lowest male voice Often associated with roles of wise men, older men, and sometimes funny characters
  • THANK YOU! Anndiva Mandley & Carol Williams