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Article

Harold Rosenthal

, accompanied by a piano. By the 1966–7 season there were three Opera for All groups, each comprising 12 members; one was based at the London Opera Centre, one at Scottish Opera and one at the WNO. The increased touring commitments of the last two companies, and expanded touring by the English Opera Group and Phoenix Opera, resulted in the two regional groups being absorbed into the larger Scottish and Welsh companies as small touring ensembles with chamber orchestra. The London-based group retained the original name. Although works like La Cenerentola , Le comte

Article

Philip Gossett

donna del lago . To call it the first opera in which Rossini wrote out the coloratura is a great exaggeration (see above). Although it is the first of his operas in which all recitative is accompanied by strings, Mayr had done this two years earlier in Medea in Corinto , written for the same Neapolitans who, largely under French influence, were demanding the rejection of secco recitative in opera seria . Much of the music of Elisabetta is salvaged from earlier operas, and the new pieces offer little novelty. As Rossini's first opera for Isabella Colbran, whose highly

Article

Bryan Gilliam and Charles Youmans

were hardly cheerful times. During work on the new opera, Die Liebe der Danae ( 1938–40 ), Strauss's daughter-in-law was placed under house arrest in Garmisch, and Strauss appealed to Heinz Tietjen, the Berlin Intendant, who had high political connections, to help ensure her and his grandsons' safety. Danae was scheduled for a 1944 première in Salzburg, but cancelled after a dress rehearsal by an order from Goebbels to close all theatres in preparation for total war. In the meantime Strauss composed his final opera, Capriccio ( 1940–41 ), which had its première

Article

Julian Budden

of a serious opera each normally ended with a bravura aria for a main character, sometimes a pathetic one or a duet; the last act generally ended with a ‘coro’ sung by all the principals. Comic operas rarely had more than three acts (an exception is Le nozze di Figaro , 1786 , with four), and towards the end of the century their third acts became progressively shorter; eventually a two-act structure came to be preferred (this applies too, in a lesser degree, to serious opera). From soon after the middle of the century it was traditional in comic opera to end Act 1

Article

Sitzprobe ( Ger.: ‘seat-rehearsal’ ) Term used in opera houses, in virtually all countries, for what is normally the first rehearsal of an opera with orchestra, during which the singers remain seated on the stage; this, undertaken when the singers have learnt their parts, is intended to show them how their own music fits into the total musical texture as supplied by the orchestra and the other singers without the distraction of acting. See Rehearsal, §2, (i) .

Article

John Rosselli

‘cute’ without inquiring into their conditions of work. A special case are the children’s companies, mainly Italian, which between about 1790 and 1920 performed operas with all the parts sung by pre-pubertal children. Teacher-impresarios took on the children of poor families for whom even modest opera earnings outstripped what they could have got in other jobs. The companies performed mainly comic operas, but one at least put on Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor . They toured successfully in Italy and the Americas, running their seasons like any other company except

Article

Roger Pines

These performances resulted in Glyndebourne adopting them in October 1984 for their Touring Opera productions of Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro and later for their festival staging of Kát’a Kabanová . Covent Gardenhas used surtitles regularly since January 1986 when they were introduced in a new production of Jenůfa ;all performances of operas in a foreign language are now surtitled there, and they have been used to accompany Birtwistle’s English-language opera, Gawain . In 1986 , the German producer Michael Hampe took them to the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Article

thought too long to be performed complete. Pergolesi’s La serva padrona , originally composed as a pair of intermezzos for performance in a serious opera, is also a favourite for inclusion in double bills. A historic example is the performance of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor and Salieri’s Prima la musica, dopo le parole in 1786 at opposite ends of the orangery at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna; in the interval all the chairs were turned round.

Article

Casting  

Harewood

with members of the wartime Sadler’s Wells company in mind and a year after its première founded the English Opera Group, whose hand-picked personnel, mutatis mutandis , provided basic casting for his operas over the next 30 years. In all this time, in every one of his 13 operas after Peter Grimes , the prodigious and individual talents of Peter Pears governed Britten’s writing for tenor voice, something which has presented problems to anyone casting the operas and to many later interpreters unable to cope either with the low-lying tessitura which came easily to Pears

Article

Döhler and Tausig, but two composers in particular were closely associated with the genre, Sigismond Thalberg and Franz Liszt. Thalberg composed fantasies or similar pieces on more than 30 operas. Those on Bellini’s Norma (op.12) and Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (op.20) made his reputation, but his fantasy on Rossini’s Moïse (op.33) was the one that was admired above all: the climactic and totally new effect of the prayer ‘Dal tuo stellato soglio’, sounding in the tenor register amid powerful cascades of arpeggios, was so overwhelming that members of his audiences

Article

Andrew Lamb

the term first became applied to full-length works. When English-language works were produced, the terms customarily used were ‘comic opera’ or ‘comedy opera’; it is only in retrospect that the term ‘operetta’ has come to be applied to all national schools. In Austria the importation of the ‘Waltz King’ Johann Strauss into the theatre from the ballroom provided Viennese operetta with a composer to rival Offenbach. Strauss also provided the particular Austrian style – romantic rather than satirical and with a strong dependence on dance rhythms, especially the waltz

Article

Marita P. McClymonds and Julian Budden

middle of the 17th century, choruses were still one of the regular components of opera, often closing one or more of the acts as well as the opera itself. These closing pieces often took the form of large concerted, polyphonic works (for example in Luigi Rossi’s Il palazzo incantato , 1642 ). Within the operas themselves, polyphonic madrigals with continuo accompaniment enhanced intensely emotional scenes. In Venice, by the middle of the century, the chorus had all but disappeared from opera; only a vestigial coro for the assembled cast remained to celebrate the happy

Article

Julian Budden

Brindisi (opera) ( It.; from Sp. brindis , a corruption of Ger. bring dir’s ) A drinking song in which a solo singer raises a toast and all present follow suit with the same words and melody. Another soloist may intervene, as in ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici’ ( La traviata , Verdi, 1853 ). The action may continue between verses or repetitions, as in ‘Si colmi il calice’ ( Macbeth , Verdi, 1847 ) and ‘Il segreto di esser felice’ ( Lucrezia Borgia , Donizetti, 1833 ). A particularly elaborate instance is ‘S’innaffia l’ugola’ ( Otello , Verdi, 1887 ) which

Article

Brian Large

bring the atmosphere of the crowds and the unusual location to the viewers; at Verona, for instance, he may choose initially to establish the setting, showing the Roman ruins and the audience of 26000 people before zooming in to the operatic action itself. In Bayreuth, where all of Wagner’s operas have been videotaped, the standard production practice has been adapted. Because only a limited number of performances take place in the Festspielhaus each year, the music dramas can be recorded in the rehearsal weeks preceding the festival, in a closed house. By turning the

Article

Trio  

Marita P. McClymonds, Elisabeth Cook and Julian Budden

unusual to find one closing an act or at the end of the opera, although the use early in the 18th century of a coro for all the characters to end the opera tended to displace it. Since intermezzos tended to include only two characters, the appearance of the trio became relatively rare. From the 1730s, however, intermezzos for three or even four characters were composed and some, for example Jommelli’s Don Chichibio ( 1742 ) and Don Trastullo ( 1749 ), included trios (the latter has two). In French opera the trio maintained a continuous presence, as one of the

Article

John Spitzer, Neal Zaslaw and Michael Kennedy

first half of the 20th century conductors played a dominant role in opera houses – choosing which operas to perform, selecting singers and controlling all aspects of the production, musical and dramatic. Arturo Toscanini was famous for keeping his singers under tight control; Herbert von Karajan and Erich Kleiber often directed the operas they conducted. The shift after World War II from repertory companies to companies that change casts for each production significantly altered the role of the opera conductor. Like leading singers and directors, conductors have become

Article

Howard Mayer Brown and Bernard Williams

or all of their parts. Numerous sub-genres, such as opera seria , opera buffa , tragédie en musique and the like, have grown up in the history of opera; information about these sub-genres will be found in separate entries. Some of the sub-genres mix spoken and sung drama in conventional ways. Thus, in operetta, Singspiel, opéra comique and musical comedy the dialogue is normally spoken and musical numbers interrupt the action from time to time. The history of opera is inextricably intertwined with the history of spoken drama. Moreover, since all operatic works

Article

Season  

John Rosselli and Richard Macnutt

religious faith among the educated in the late 18th century , as much as the increasing demand for opera, may explain why governments came to allow staged performances of ‘sacred dramas’ (operas on biblical subjects) in Lent. Such permission was given in Munich as early as 1734 . Prague followed suit in 1749 , but Maria Theresa tried to hold the line; she allowed some relaxation from 1772 , and after her death her sons Joseph II and Leopold II opened up Lent, all but Holy Week (Austrian lands, 1788 ; Tuscany, 1791 ); so did Naples in 1787 . The real problem in

Article

Dale E. Monson, Jack Westrup and Julian Budden

however, under the reign of Murat in Naples, which saw the importation of early French grand opera, the fashion started of scoring the secco recitative for strings, exemplified by Mayr’s Medea in Corinto ( 1813 ) and Rossini’s Elisabetta , regina d’Inghilterra ( 1815 ). By 1820 this had become the rule for serious works, keyboard accompaniment being restricted to opera buffa and semiseria . In due course both types of recitative became subsumed into the Scena . All passages, however, intended to be delivered in the rhythm of ordinary speech continued to

Article

Curtis Price

that, with apologies to all composers concerned, he had selected the most popular arias from recent Goldoni operas and devised a plot (‘una comica azione’) to link them together. A further sign of acceptance if not respectability is Joseph Mazzinghi’s contract as house composer at the King’s Theatre, London, in 1790–92 : he agreed to ‘compose and select all such new Music’ as required and to ‘arrange all the Pasticcios’. Related to the various types of Italian pasticcio are ballad opera, English comic opera, opéra comique and Singspiel – all of which incorporated