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Opera: That thing where people sing

Merry Christmas!! Here is my contribution to the collective pot o' knowledge. Enjoy!!
by Kaley Smith on 25 December 2012

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Transcript of Opera: That thing where people sing

Opera: That thing where people sing Opera basics: What is an opera? Opera Pronunciation Guide "Opera" literally translates to "work" from Italian, probably referring both to the amount of work involved and the "work" or piece of music.

The first operas were written in 1600's Florence (with a few precursors in the late 1500s). The first commonly recognized "opera" as we know it was written by Claudio Monteverdi in 1600- "Orfeo"

An opera is essentially any musical work that incorporates completely (or almost) sung text, instrumentation, and staging. Of course, ever since the invention of opera the genre has been changing, giving us lots of variety and morphing into operetta and musical theater. Soprano- The highest female voice: Before a performance: Telling a performer you know "good luck!" or "break a leg" is always appreciated. Singers will tell each other "toi, toi, toi!" (pronounced "toy") which is the equivalent of good luck, or spit over each others' shoulders. So, if you REALLY want to impress them, say, "toi, toi, toi!"

When to arrive: Try to be at least 10 minutes early to the opera house. Often there are long lines in the ticket office and to be seated, and you wouldn't want to miss anything! If you do arrive late, allow the ushers to seat you at an appropriate moment. If an usher is not available, a moment of applause is usually a good time to sneak in and sit in a back row seat.

The start of the performance: The performance starts when the lights in the audience go to half light. This signals the orchestra to start tuning. After they tune, the conductor will walk out into the pit and bow to the audience- it is appropriate to applaud when the conductor steps out into the pit, he is in charge of the music for the whole performance!

At intermission: There is usually a 15 or 20 minute intermission during the opera (sometimes two!) the lights in the audience will go up, and the audience is free to leave the theatre and go to the lobby or restroom. Look in your program to note how long the intermission(s) are. There will usually be some sort of warning- either over the PA system in the lobby or with flashing of the lobby lights to signal that there are 5 minutes left until intermission is over.

Applause: The audience usually applauds when the conductor comes into the pit at the beginning of the performance and after intermissions. It is also appropriate to applaud after a character sings an aria particularly well. Shouting "Bravo!" is also appropriate after an aria or during curtain call. "Bravo" is for the male performers, "Brava" is for female performers, and "Bravi" is for ensembles or for multiple performers. Going to the opera: a performance guide Giacomo Puccini = (jack-i-mo pooch-eenee)
Wagner = (vagner)
Mozart = (mo ts art)
Gaetano Donizetti = (guy-e-tawno dawn-it-setee)
Gounod = (goo- no)
Anton Dvorak = (anton di vor-jacque (like the French name)
Guiseppe Verdi = (jew-sep-ee verdi)

Maestro = (my-stro)
Toi, toi, toi = (toy, toy, toy)

La Boheme = (la bo em)
Die Zauberflote = (dee ts- ow-ber flot-uh)
Le Nozze di Figaro = (lay no tsay di fi ga ro)
La Fille du Regiment = (la fee doo rej i ma)



Have a Listen! Kaley's opera jams:
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgFVT6O-MBF1CiJYw87m6AVPLkopF-r0C&feature=mh_lolz 1) "Ach, Ich fühls" from The Magic Flute by W. A. Mozart

2) "Una Furtiva Lagrima" from The Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti

3) "Un Bel Di" from Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

4) "Der Holle Rache" from the Magic Flute by W. A. Mozart

5) The "Poison Aria" from Romeo y Juliette by Charles Gounod

6) "Soave il Vento" from Cosi fan Tutte by W. A. Mozart

7) "The Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Valkyrie by Richard Wagner

8) "Chacun le Sait Chacun le Dit" from La Fille du Regiment by Donizetti

9) "O Soave Fanciulla" from La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini

10) "Meine Lippen Sie Kussen So Heiss" from Giudetta by Franz Lehar

11) "Papageno/Papagena duet" from The Magic Flute by Mozart

12) "Mad scene" from Lucia Di Lammermore by Donizetti

13) Flower duet from Lakme by Leo Delibes

14) "Libiamo" or The Drinking Song from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi

15) The final trio of Die Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss

16) "Glitter and be Gay" from Candide (ok, technically an operetta... but it is fun) by Leonard Bernstein

17) "Una voce poco fa" from Il Barbiere di Sevilla by Gioachino Rossini

18) "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" from La Rondine by Puccini

19) "Song to the Moon" from Rusalka by Anton Dvorak

20) "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot by Puccini

Honorable mention: Duetto buffo di los gatos by Rossini The Pieces and People of an Opera Orchestra- the instruments in the "pit." They are really the ones who shape the music and support the singers. They are led by the conductor, or Maestro.

Principles- the lead roles of an opera, usually the title character and other important characters. They get all the good songs.

Chorus- the supporting cast. They usually come in for moral support and as the "extras" in the world of the opera. Though they don't get the good songs, they are some of the most important people, as they are usually the ones making the scene changes and making the environment believable.

Stage Manager/Stage Crew- the people behind the scenes making everything run smoothly throughout the show. You can't see them, but without the stage manager and crew, nothing happens.

Costumer/Wardrobe/Wigs- the people in charge of all the costumes and hair. They make the opera look beautiful!

Set designer/builder- the people who create the set. Often in smaller companies the cast will help build and load in/out the set.

Fight Coordinator- someone who choreographs any fights in the opera (there is usually at least one...) and manages all of the weaponry. Dramatic Soprano: characterized by a darker timbre and large voice, usually cast in roles like Tosca and Turandot (Puccini).

Lyric Soprano: One of the most common voice type of sopranos, characterized by golden tones and the ability to sing long, fluid lines, usually cast in roles like the Countess (The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart) or Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly, Puccini).

Soubrette: Another common voice type, slightly lighter than the lyric voices with a more silvery tone, usually cast in roles like Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro) or Despina (Cosi fan Tutte, Mozart).

Coloratura: The "highest" of the sopranos, coloraturas are characterized by their ability to sing very quickly and very high in the soprano range, usually cast in roles like the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute, Mozart) or Ophelia (Hamlet, Ambroise Thomas).

Mezzo Soprano: (pronounced me-tso) A slightly lower voice, Mezzo sopranos have a stronger voice in the lower part of the voice and a darker tone. Though they sometimes have difficulty with the highest notes in the range, they make up for it with a rich sound, cast in roles like Carmen (Bizet) and often in "trouser roles" (where a woman plays a man, usually a young boy) like Cherubino (The Nozze Di Figaro). Voice types in opera Contralto: The lowest female voice type Contraltos have a lower range than sopranos and have a much darker sound, usually cast in roles like Erda (The Ring Cycle, Wagner). Tenor: The highest male voice Lyric Tenor: Your basic tenor, very versatile voice that is characterized by a piercing quality in the upper range, but a sweetness of tone in the middle register, can be cast in many roles, including Rodolfo (La Boheme, Puccini) and Il Duco (Rigoletto, Verdi).

Character or Comic Tenor: Tenors with a slightly smaller range than tenors, but distinctive voices. Usually requires a good deal of acting, since they are usually the comic relief characters. Roles like: Monastatos in the Magic Flute and Frantz from The Tales of Hoffman are character tenor roles.

Heroic or Dramatic Tenor, aka Heldentenor: Tenors with a stronger lower range and darker tone, but still have clarity in the top notes. Cast in roles like: Siegfried (The Ring Cycle) and Don Jose (Carmen). Voice types in opera Baritone: The middle male voice Lyric Baritone: Baritones have a slightly lower range than tenors and have a darker sound without the tenor "ping" heard in the upper range. Lyric Baritones are the most common baritone roles, like the role of Papageno in the Magic Flute and Don Giovanni.

Dramatic Baritone: Baritones with a very strong lower range and dark vocal quality. Often cast in Verdi roles, like Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Scarpia in Tosca (Puccini).

Bass-Baritone: Men with a mixture of the baritone and bass range and dark vocal quality, often stereotypically cast as the villain in the opera. Méphistophélès from Gounod's Faust and Leporello (who is NOT a villain) from Don Giovanni are two bass-baritone roles. Bass: The lowest male voice type Lyric Bass: (pronounced base) Lower voice range than both baritones and tenors, characterized by the ability to sing long fluid lines in the low range of their voice. Often, those who can sing bass-baritone roles can also sing lyric bass roles. Roles like Don Pasquale (Don Pasquale, Donizetti) and Don Alfonso (Cosi fan Tutte, Mozart) are lyric bass roles.

Basso Profundo or Dramatic Bass: the lowest of all voice types, basso profundos have strong voices and incredible lower ranges. Sarastro in the Magic Flute and Sparafucile in Rigoletto are basso profundo roles. Going to the opera: an etiquette guide Dress can be moderately casual at the opera, business casual is almost always appropriate. If attending a gala or event afterward, cocktail or even black tie attire would be expected. Be sure to wear shoes you can walk in if parking is an issue and clothing you can sit in for long periods of time!

Pictures of the sets, stage, or performance should never be taken unless given specific license. Often the sets are rented and under copyright, and a flash in the audience can be distracting or even harmful to the performers.

If you know you will need a mint or a cough drop during a performance, try to unwrap a few beforehand so that you do not disrupt the experience for those around you. However, if you must unwrap one, please do it as quickly as possible to minimize the disruption.

While a live audience always makes some noise, if you are coughing excessively, please excuse yourself. Children should also stay home from the opera when they are very young, but there are often child-friendly performances scheduled or family nights at some opera houses. Merry Christmas Everyone!!! Lots of love,
Kaley
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