The World of Opera

I hope you have found my breathless blogs on Spanish music interesting, and similarly the additional ones on the wider European scene. Since beginning these articles in May of last year we have had 65,500 visits, and thank you for looking us up, but where to now? The Euroresidentes team suggest that I concentrate on particular compositions and memorable performances and this I will do, but I am conscious that we have neglected the world of opera, and so for the next few articles we’ll have a quick look there. Finally we shall do a round-up of contemporary Spanish music.

Operatic aficionados say that this is the perfect art form for it has music, song, dance (sometimes), drama, comedy and spectacle -it can also have an incredible plot line which suspends your intelligence but can arouse your emotions. It is generally agreed that the genre originated in Florence towards the close of the 16th.Century, where operatic behaviour was a way of life! There was a great deal of spoken dialogue (‘recitative’) but then under the influence of Claudio Monteverdi (1567- 1643)it developed rapidly, borrowing elements from the madrigal and ornate Venetian church music with a growing importance given to the place of arias and eventually the setting of recitative to music.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), German b y birth but living and composing in England, was responsible for a significent surge forward with his operas in the Italian ‘opera seria’ style; serious indeed with story lines borrowed from Greek mythology and extended and ornate solos, often for the great castrato singers and sopranos of his day.

Mozart whom we have met, gave opera – both comic and serious – a whole new dimension with prominence now given to the place of the orchestra as a full participant and not fulfilling a merely accompanying role, and with integrated plots peopled by characters of depth and personality.

The Oxford Dictionary of Music says that after his ‘Don Giovanni’ in the world of opera, ‘almost anything was possible’.

We shall have a quick look at German, Italian, French and British opera.