Opera Music

The literal meaning of the word 'opera' in Italian is 'task'. If you try to find out the origin of opera, you will only learn that it has no accepted particular source, it has rather originated with time. In the early days it was performed in courts, and later on, it started taking shape as public performances also. The country where it first started was no doubt , as the literal meaning manifests. The first composition of the opera is said to be "Daphne'. It was believed to be the debut performance of the opera music composition in the year 1598 during a carnival for Jacopo Corsi, in the city of Florence, Italy. Italy was a hub of great music talent and enjoyed fabulous music in its music carnivals, canti carnascialeschi. The period 1500-1700 AD is termed as the first phase of the earliest influences of this Italian Music on the European countries; this period is termed as "Baroque".

Phases of Opera Music

After the Baroque Period, the opera was divided into two divisions - opera seria (serious opera) and opera buffo (comedic opera). The opera seria was dominated by Germans. It got excerpts from history and myth; while the latter was influenced by the lives of common men and exemplified their stories of love, deceit, revenge etc.

Another form of opera which overshadowed the Italian opera music for sometime was the "Ballad Opera", it was inspired by the Old Ballads and enjoyed immediate popularity in London.

Yet another face of Opera called the "Singspiel Opera" blends songs with spoken dialogues and was promoted by the Germans. In the same way French Comique was advocated by the French; and both of these had their roots in the "opera buffo".

This new style of theater became popular by the close of the 16th century. New productions purposefully written for singing with accompaniment begin to appear. The De Medici family in Florence paid a music composer Jacopo Peri for the maiden opera music entitled 'Dafne' in 1598 performed privately for the family. Unluckily much of the score was lost but it could not eliminate its place in the history of opera.

After a lapse of few years, opera disseminated from Florence to rest of Italy, German Provinces, far west to England, north to the Spain, France and Austrian Empire, Florence and other Italian cities like Rome, Venice, and Milan and dedicated opera houses begin to built and tickets for performances sold. Venice became the forerunner in 1637 and eventually the cultural and spiritual home of opera.

One of the performers of opera music, Claudio Monteverdi decided early in his operas to incorporate short performances within his works that were crafted to attract a wider spectrum of audience. Ultimately these short pieces were eliminated as the spectators begin to appreciate full length opera without any interruption.

The growing demand for opera gave birth to various schools of thought on the nature of opera. Some composers opted for complex subtexts and interwoven plots while others preferred a decent approach.

Influence on Opera

  • In 1800, the opera music was dominated by the Italians and the storylines were based on conflicts and tragedy between tyranny and oppression.
  • In 1900, opera music got domination from the Germans and became nationalistic and often was based on folklore and legend.
  • Till date, opera remains one of the most popular forms of music which is enjoyed worldwide.
  • From the European Continent, it has grown to become a world heritage in terms of music.
  • This is evident by the huge number of Opera Houses across the planet; the largest being in the New York City and second largest in Chicago; both being Non-European.
  • The Sydney Opera House is also very famous.

Popularity of Opera Music

With time, Opera has satisfied the taste of all music lovers and has also facilitated the use of "Opera Glasses" for financial gains in the form of Theatre Binoculars.

Features of Opera Music

Opera music is an entertainment style blended with orchestral singers and musicians who perform with characteristic classical method. Besides being trained in music, the Opera artists are also professionally trained in stage craft.

The music style performed in original Greek plays was very simple with only a limited number of instrumentalists playing drums, flute, and lyre.

As opera music typically narrates the story of love, many characters appearing on stage were meant to be women, but renaissance culture had objections on female actors which led all actors being men.
This condition encouraged castrated men from all over Europe and the Arab world to make their way into theater.
The language of original operas music was inscribed in the Italian of the big cities such as Venice and Florence. However, Opera became famous in various other languages and has been able to cross the language barrier to reach popularity elsewhere in France and Germany. English Opera music became very popular in the 20th century.

European immigrants of US brought passion for opera with them and passionate Americans embraced the opera music as fast as their own culture.

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