Music Appreciation Exam: How to Ace It by Knowing Opera

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re looking to ace your music appreciation exam, then you’ll want to make sure you know your opera. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on how to study for and ace your music appreciation exam by knowing opera.


Music Appreciation Exam: How to Ace It by Knowing Opera is an in-depth guide to becoming an opera expert. This course will teach you everything you need to know about opera, from its history and origins to its major composers and works. You’ll also learn how to appreciate opera’s music, drama, and theatrical elements. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your knowledge of this revered art form!

What is Opera?

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theatre. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. It originated in Italy in the late 16th century, and spread through the rest of Europe: in Germany, Opera developed differently from Italy, giving birth to the German school; in France, it came under the influence of Pierre Beauchamp, Jean-Baptiste Lully and Marc-Antoine Charpentier; and in England it was imported by Henry Purcell. Operas are usually staged in opera houses.

What is the History of Opera?

Opera is a combination of singing and acting, all set to music. The word “opera” means “work” in Italian. Opera began in the 1500s, when a group of wealthy Italians hired a group of musicians to entertain them. The first operas were very different from the operas we see today. They were often long, sometimes lasting up to six hours, and they had little plot or character development. Instead, they consisted of a series ofshort musical pieces, called “arias,” which were sung by the characters.

Opera gradually developed over the next few hundred years. In 1607, the first opera house opened in Venice, Italy. This was followed by the opening of many other opera houses across Europe. By the early 1800s, opera had become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Europe.

One of the most important changes to opera came in the late 1800s, when composers began to write operas in which the music was more important than the plot or characters. These operas are called “musical dramas” or “music dramas.” The two most famous composers of musical dramas were Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi.

Today, opera is enjoyed by people all over the world. It is still possible to see long operas, such as Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which lasts for four evenings, but most operas are much shorter. And while some operas are serious dramas with complex plots, others are light-hearted comedies set to beautiful music.

What are the Different Types of Opera?

There are four main types of opera: comic opera, tragic opera, mixed-genre opera, and operetta. Each type of opera has its own unique characteristics, and knowing them can help you better appreciate this classic art form.

Comic opera, also known as opéra comique, is a type of opera that combines elements of both comedy and tragedy. The plots of comic operas often revolve around love and marriage, and they usually have a happy ending. Some well-known examples of comic operas include The Marriage of Figaro and La Bohème.

Tragic operas, on the other hand, are typically much darker in tone. They often deal with grand themes such as love and death, and their endings are usually quite tragic. Some well-known examples of tragic operas include Carmen and Tosca.

Mixed-genre operas are a mix of both comic and tragic elements. These operas often have complex plotlines with plenty of twists and turns. They can be quite emotional to watch, as they often deal with sensitive topics such as betrayal and murder. Some well-known examples of mixed-genre operas include La traviata and Rigoletto.

Operetta is a type of light opera that is characterized by its lighthearted nature and catchy tunes. Operettas are often shorter than other types of operas, and they typically have much simpler plotlines. Some well-known examples of operettas include The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore.

What are the Different Opera Composers?

Different composers have brought their own unique style to the opera genre. Here are some of the most famous opera composers and their most well-known works:

-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte
-Gioachino Rossini: The Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola
-Richard Wagner: The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Parsifal
-Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata
-Georges Bizet: Carmen

How to Listen to Opera

Opera can be one of the most beautiful and moving forms of music, but it can also be one of the most confusing, especially if you’re not used to it. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to listen to opera, so that you can get the most out of this beautiful art form.

First and foremost, opera is meant to be enjoyed as a complete work, not just as individual pieces of music. It’s important to listen to an opera from beginning to end in order to appreciate its overall structure and story. If you’re new to opera, we recommend finding a recording of a complete work (preferably with English subtitles) and following along as you listen.

Next, pay attention to the different elements that make up an opera: the singing (called “recitative”), the speaking (called “dialogue”), and the orchestra. Each element plays an important role in telling the story and creating the mood of an opera.

Finally, take some time to familiarize yourself with the most common types of opera: comic operas, tragic operas, and heroic operas. Each type has its own unique characteristics that you’ll be able to pick up on as you listen.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to enjoying opera like a true connoisseur!

How to Appreciate Opera

Opera is a type of musical theatre in which singing and sometimes dancing are used to tell a story. Operas are usually written in Italian, German or French. The first opera was written in 1597 and the most famous opera composer is probably Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Some people think that opera is boring, but it can be appreciated if you know what to look for. Here are some tips:

-Find out about the plot before you go. Knowing the story will help you understand what is happening on stage.
-Listen to the music. Even if you do not understand the words, the music itself can be beautiful and moving.
-Watch the singers. Opera singers are trained to use their bodies and faces to express emotion, so pay attention to their acting as well as their singing.
-Look at the sets and costumes. Opera productions are often very lavish, with beautiful sets and costumes that add to the atmosphere of the piece.


Opera can be a tough subject for a music appreciation exam, but with a little bit of knowledge and effort, it can be easily mastered. The key is to know the major works and composers, and to be able to identify them by ear. With a little practice, anyone can do it!

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