Tuesday, February 24, 2004

What's Opera, Kari?

Hello Kari:

I'll get a blog post out of anything!

Anyway, perhaps you will have the answer or maybe one of our culturally-in-the-know readers will.

What is opera? What makes something opera? What makes something a musical?

I probably could spend hours looking on the internet for the answer but I limited myself to two web site visits.

From this web site I get this honest though not entirely helpful answer:
In most operas all the words are sung, but in some there is spoken dialogue. Some operas are primarily successions of arias connected by the declaimed type of speech-song known as recitative. In others the flow of dramatic action is not interrupted by any set piece such as an aria. Operas can be tragic or gay; superficial in meaning or deeply philosophical; witty and sophisticated in tone or restrained in passion. Musically an opera can be composed primarily of straightforward vocal melodies, with the orchestra playing the simplest kind of accompaniment, or it can be highly complex in melody and harmony, with the orchestra equal in importance to the voice. Really, then, there is no such thing as a "typical" opera.

Opera's success has been due to its composers; it has survived only because it has offered great music. The inventiveness of a long line of geniuses has continually refreshed the whole field of opera: Monteverdi, Lully, Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Weber, Meyerbeer, Wagner, Verdi, Mussorgsky, Strauss, Debussy, Puccini, Berg.
In this other web site there is an informative and delightful explaination of the famed Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd animated feature, "What's Opera, Doc?"

Anyway, what prompts my curiousity is that I'll be seeing Puccini's Madama Butterfly this Thursday. I'll be sure to get a blog post out of that too.

Be well,


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