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Licht  

Richard Toop

Licht ( ‘Light’ ) The collective title of a projected cycle of seven operas by Karlheinz Stockhausen , each of which is named after a day of the week. The cycle was conceived in 1977 and completed in 2003 . Up to 2007 , only the first five operas have been staged, though semi-staged performances have been given of all individual parts of the two final operas: Mittwoch aus Licht (‘Wednesday’), 1995–7 , and Sonntag aus Licht (‘Sunday’), 1999–2003 . Performances of the complete cycle are planned (but unconfirmed) for Essen in 2010 . Licht ,

Article

Richard Toop

Donnerstag aus Licht ( ‘Thursday from Light’ ) Opera in three acts, a greeting and a farewell by Karlheinz Stockhausen to his own libretto; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 3 April 1981 (following an incomplete performance on 15 March 1981 ). Donnerstag was the first opera of Stockhausen’s Licht cycle to be completed; it was composed from 1978 to 1981 ( Der Jahreslauf , a scene from Dienstag , was composed in 1977 ). However, it assumes fourth place within a complete cycle. The framing format of Greeting and Farewell calls for special comment

Article

Thomas Bauman

‘The Barber of Seville’ ) Komische Oper in four acts by Friedrich Ludwig Benda ( see Benda family (opera) §(3) ) to a libretto by Grossmann, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm , adapted from Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin (opera) ’ play Le barbier de Séville ; Leipzig, Theater am Rannstädter Tor, 7 May 1776 . Grossmann originally translated Beaumarchais’ play more or less faithfully for the Seyler company. Seyler persuaded him to adapt it as a comic opera and it was in this form, with Benda’s music, that the play was generally performed in Germany during the 18th

Article

Richard Taruskin

them pliable vocal formulae or ‘melodic moulds’ to which prose dialogue could be accommodated, rather than symphonically developed instrumental motifs of the Wagnerian type), Prokofiev hoped to achieve a ‘scenic flexibility’ that would rescue opera from its putative impasse and show it to be ‘the most vivid and powerful of all the scenic arts’. Owing to difficulties in casting, the unwillingness of the orchestra, the ineptitude of the director (Nikolay Bogolyubov) and, finally, the political turmoil following the February revolution of 1917 , the Mariinsky production

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

Florence since a revival of Traetta’s opera ten years earlier. The plot centres on twin magnanimous deeds: Pollux (soprano castrato) replaces his dead half-brother Castor (soprano castrato) in the underworld so that Castor can be reunited with Telaira (soprano), a union Febe [Phoebe] (soprano) plans to disrupt; after a tender meeting, Castor asks to return so that Pollux may be freed, and Jupiter (tenor) rewards all three by reuniting them in heaven. Castore contains all the elements that had been purged from Italian serious opera before the turn of the century: gods

Article

Richard Toop

Mittwoch aus Licht ( ‘Wednesday from Light’ ) Opera in four scenes, a greeting and a farewell by Karlheinz Stockhausen to his own libretto. As yet ( 2007 ) unstaged as a whole, but all individual parts have been given semi-staged performances: Scene 1 ‘World Parliament’, Stuttgart, Liederhalle, 3 Feb 1996 Scene 2 ‘Orchestral Finalists’, Amsterdam, Carré Theatre, 14 June 1996 Scene 3 ‘Helicopter String Quartet’, Amsterdam, Westergasfabriek, 26 June 1995 Scene 4 ‘Michaelion’

Article

Louise K. Stein

Italian operas. Celos aun del aire matan complemented Hidalgo’s one-act La púrpura de la rosa produced some months earlier. In keeping with Spanish theatrical conventions, all the roles except for one (the comic Rústico) were sung by women, the principal roles being those for the goddess Diana, the nymph Aura, Céfalo, Pocris and Eróstrato. The roles of Rústico, Clarín and Floreta are comic in the tradition of the gracioso . Hidalgo’s extant music demonstrates his adaptation of Spanish conventions from semi-operas and zarzuelas to the genre of fully sung opera. The

Article

Izaht  

Simon Wright

two earlier, unperformed operas, Aglaia ( 1909 ) and Elisa ( 1910 ), both written while he was a cellist in the orchestra of a small opera company. The composer constructed Izaht ’s libretto around a fantastic story of underworld life, telling of gypsies, espionage, intrigue and banditry, and opening unpromisingly ‘in the Tavern of Death, badly built in the vaults of an abandoned castle, in an outer suburb of Paris’. The long, tortuous and extremely complicated plot and the need for 11 soloists, a chorus, a ballet and large orchestra all militated against early

Article

Dale E. Monson

Artaserse (iii) ( ‘Artaxerxes’ ) Opera seria in three acts by baldassare Baldassare Galuppi to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio ( see Artaserse above); Vienna, Burgtheater, 27 January 1749 . This was Galuppi’s first setting of Metastasio’s most popular text; it was revised for Padua in 1751 . The text is heavily cut throughout, with many lines of new recitative added to bridge awkward transitions. The most extensive variation is the insertion of a quartet for the principals, Arbace [Arbaces] (soprano), Artaxerxes (soprano)

Article

John A. Rice

the more serious qualities of Axur when he praised it as ‘the most excellent of all serious Italian operas – even including Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito ’. First performed in celebration of the marriage of Archduke Franz, Joseph’s nephew, Axur was an immediate and lasting success. It was said to have been Joseph’s favourite opera, and it found favour with the Viennese public as well. With 100 performances between 1788 and 1805 , Axur was one of the most often performed operas in the Viennese court theatres during this period. Many performances in Germany

Article

(above all those for the lead soprano) and its ensembles. In time, however, the failings of the plot – the same as that of Donizetti’ s Caterina Cornaro – began to obtrude, as did the general lack of drama and characterization and an inclination to unvaried musical treatment; as one critic maintained, the bandits sang in the same lively march tempo as the knights with no noticeable difference in musical style. Lachner did improve the finale, which originally faded away quietly – an unforgivable lapse of instinct in relation to the requirements of grand opera. But

Article

Malcolm Boyd

prepared for the Neapolitan stage. As in his other mature operas, the basic musical constituent after the ‘Italian’ overture is the recitative-aria unit. Except for Marcus’s ‘Nella procella che agita l’alma’ in Act 3 scene i, all the complete arias sung by the six serious characters are in the customary ternary (da capo or dal segno) form. A particular feature of the opera is that no fewer than six arias are left incomplete, in one case because the character falls asleep, in the others because he or she is interrupted by the entrance of another. This enhances the musical

Article

Jim Samson

is conventional. A young girl, Basia (soprano), and her stepmother, Dorota (soprano), are in love with the same boy, Stach (tenor). Dorota tries to arrange for Basia to marry someone else (a mountaineer), but after several complications Basia remains with her lover and all ends happily. The opera’s significance lies in the texts of its songs rather than in the plot. These deal with patriotic sentiments, the lack of independence and a dislike of foreign powers – themes close to the heart of Polish audiences during the years of the Partitions. Musically the work is

Article

Paul Corneilson

in Idomeneo (cut before the première). The opera featured all but one of the same singers as Temistocle : Raaff (Sulla), the sopranos Dorothea (Junia) and Elisabeth Wendling (Celia), Roncaglia (Cecilius) and G. B. Zonca (Cinna). In many details, Lucio Silla is similar in design to Temistocle . There are several concertante arias, and in general the writing for wind instruments is especially rich and varied. Although the work was not performed during his visit to Mannheim, Mozart was able to borrow a copy of the opera from G. J. Vogler. The differences between

Article

Richard Langham Smith

But Guillaume, in love with Hélène, gives her some. Véronique recalls an old legend telling of a cathedral filled with gold: when someone finds it, all the gold in the world will vanish. The centrepiece of the opera, ‘La légende de l’or’, is a ballet. Two groups of dancers try in vain to take a golden image and having failed, they fight. Suddenly Véronique enters and in a clap of thunder the vision disappears. The opera returns to the factory where a new machine has been installed, but a shepherd warns Gaspard that armed villagers are coming to close it. An avalanche

Article

Andrew Lamb

Wedding’ ) Opéra comique in one act by Victor Massé ; to a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré ; Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), 4 February 1853 . Jean (baritone) is due to marry his neighbour Jeannette (soprano) but gets cold feet, preferring to go out drinking with his male friends. Jeannette, though, knows the traditional route to a man’s heart. She repairs his clothes, cleans and tidies his house and makes him a hearty meal. Returning to a home magically transformed, Jean realizes that marriage is for him after all. Caroline Carvalho

Article

Julian Rushton

his excitement he embraces Claudine, who decides she prefers him after all. Colin wakes up and sings a recitative and aria which parody serious opera; Eustache takes him for a ghost; Marcel takes Eustache for a burglar. The resulting confusion is resolved and the two couples are united. Quétant preceded the libretto with an essay claiming that opéra comique requires as much skill as tragedy. His blend of sentiment and farce is robustly supported by the composer in his most colourful opéra comique , enlivened by mixed metres, parody, onomatopoeia and inventive

Article

Richard Taruskin

Feramors Lyric opera in three acts by Anton Grigor’yevich Rubinstein Rubinshteyn to a libretto by Julius Rodenberg after Thomas Moore ’s Lalla Rookh ; Dresden, Hoftheater, 24 February 1863 . Moore’s poem, about a Kashmiri princess (‘Tulip-cheek’, soprano in the opera) who loves the poor singer Feramors (tenor) but is betrothed to the Khan of Bukhara – who turns out to be Feramors after all – inspired, in addition to Rubinstein’s setting, the almost exactly contemporaneous opéra comiqueLalla Roukh by Félicien David. The coincidence was

Article

Virginia Saya

castrato (and whose affair with Casanova is borne out in the memoirs). The opera has a narrative plot, clear character development and many surprising turns, all in keeping with the work’s opera buffa inspiration. Here Argento turned completely from 12-note writing, favouring a rich, post-romantic harmonic idiom and arching, expressive vocal lines. Written into the score are large-scale scene changes, often accomplished with little mechanical assistance. Act 1 scene ii, set at an opera house during a performance, has been cited as a musical and dramatic tour de

Article

Mary Hunter

libretto, La buona figliuola , first set by Duni and performed in Parma in 1756 . That opera was not a notable success, receiving only about four productions up to 1761 . Goldoni’s libretto was set again in 1760 by Piccinni, and was first performed to great acclaim by an all-male cast in Rome. La buona figliuola took Europe by storm: by 1790 it had received more than 70 different productions, appearing in all the major European cities and often for more than one season. The opera was also given as La baronessa riconosciuta , La Cecchina zitella and Cecchina