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.
is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet
. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac
and Ludovic Halévy
, based on a novella of the same title
by Prosper Mérimée
. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique
in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and was not at first particularly successful; its initial run extended to 36 performances. Before this run was concluded, Bizet died suddenly, and thus knew nothing of the opera's later celebrity. Written in the genre of opéra comique
, it tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naive soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality and lawlessness, and the tragic outcome in which the main character dies on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial. After the premiere most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen
initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired celebrity at home and abroad, and continues to be one of the most frequently performed operas; the "toreador's song
" from Act 2 is among the best known of all operatic arias. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen
forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique
and the realism or verismo
that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.
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.
(7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism
along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy
, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. Born to a music-loving family, Ravel attended France's premier music college, the Paris Conservatoire
; he was not well regarded by its conservative establishment, whose biased treatment of him caused a scandal. After leaving the conservatoire, Ravel found his own way as a composer, developing a style of great clarity, incorporating elements of baroque
and, in his later works, jazz. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro
(1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. Ravel completed two operas, and worked on three others. Ravel's first completed opera was L'heure espagnole
(premiered in 1911). His second was L'enfant et les sortilèges
(premiered in 1925).
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