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Opera


Opera (Italian: [ˈɔːpera]; English plural: operas; Italian plural: opere [ˈɔːpere]) is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (libretto) and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. In traditional opera, singers do two types of singing: recitative, a speech-inflected style and arias, a more melodic style. 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, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. It started in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with Jacopo Peri's mostly lost Dafne, produced in Florence in 1598) and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Heinrich Schütz in Germany, Jean-Baptiste Lully in France, and Henry Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. In the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe (except France), attracting foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Christoph Willibald Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. In the 2000s, the most renowned figure of late 18th-century opera is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), a landmark in the German tradition.



The following is only intended as a brief overview. For the main articles, see soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, countertenor and castrato.
  • Apel, Willi, ed. (1969). Harvard Dictionary of Music, Second Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. SBN 674375017.
  • Cooke, Mervyn (2005). The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Opera. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. . See also Google Books partial preview. Accessed 3 October 2009.
  • Silke Leopold, "The Idea of National Opera, c. 1800", United and Diversity in European Culture c. 1800, ed. Tim Blanning and Hagen Schulze (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 19–34.
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, edited by Stanley Sadie (1992), 5,448 pages, is the best, and by far the largest, general reference in the English language. and
  • The Viking Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden (1994), 1,328 pages,
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera, ed. Roger Parker (1994)
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, by John Warrack and Ewan West (1992), 782 pages,
  • Opera, the Rough Guide, by Matthew Boyden et al. (1997), 672 pages,
  • Opera: A Concise History, by Leslie Orrey and Rodney Milnes, World of Art, Thames & Hudson
  • DiGaetani, John Louis: An Invitation to the Opera, Anchor Books, 1986/91. .
  • Dorschel, Andreas, 'The Paradox of Opera', The Cambridge Quarterly 30 (2001), no. 4, pp. 283–306. ISSN (printed): 0008-199X. ISSN (electronic): 1471-6836. Discusses the aesthetics of opera.
  • MacMurray, Jessica M. and Allison Brewster Franzetti: The Book of 101 Opera Librettos: Complete Original Language Texts with English Translations, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1996.
  • Rous, Samuel Holland (1919). The Victrola Book of the Opera. Stories of The Operas with Illustrations.... Camden, New Jersey, U. S. A.: Victor Talking Machine Company. View at Internet Archive.
  • Simon, Henry W.: A Treasury of Grand Opera, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1946.
  • Abbate, Carolyn; Parker, Roger (2012). A History of Opera. New York: W W Norton & Co Inc. ISBN . 
  • Grout, Donald Jay (1947). A Short History of Opera. Columbia University Press. 
  • Valls, María Antonia (1989). Hitos de la Música Universal y Retratos de sus Grandes Protagonistas. (Illustrations by Willi Glasauer). Barcelona: Círculo de Lectores. 
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