My Fab Music: Opera

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Welcome to My Fab Music: Opera! Here we will explore all things related to opera, from its origins to its modern day incarnations. We’ll discuss the great composers, the classic operas, and the singers who bring them to life. Whether you’re a longtime opera fan or just getting started, we hope you’ll find something of interest here!


Opera is a form of musical theatre that combines music, singing, spoken dialogue and sometimes dance. It originated in Italy in the late 16th century and quickly spread across Europe. Opera tells a story through music and often includes dramatic scenes, colourful costumes and grand sets.

Some of the most famous operas include Verdi’s La traviata, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Many operas are based on well-known stories, such as Romeo and Juliet or Cinderella.

Opera is usually performed in an opera house. The largest opera house in the world is the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

What is Opera?

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers. Stories are usually based on literary sources and can be tragic or comic. Opera originated in Italy in the late 16th century and spread throughout Europe. Today it is popular all over the world.

The Different Types of Opera

Opera is a diverse art form with many different types and sub-genres. Here are just a few of the most popular types of opera:

· grand opera – the most opulent and theatrical type of opera, often with large casts and elaborate sets and costumes

· comic opera – light-hearted operas with funny characters and plots, sometimes including cross-dressing and farce

· tragic opera – operas with serious storylines that often end in death or despair

· chamber opera – small-scale operas, often for just a few singers without any instrumental accompaniment

· experimental opera – avant-garde operas that push the boundaries of what opera can be, incorporating elements from other art forms or using new technology

The History of Opera

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers. Such a “work” (the word “opera” is from the Italian for “work”) is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates musical, dramatic, and sometimes dance elements. The story of opera can be traced back to antiquity. By the 18th century, it had become one of the most sustainable forms of theatre. In the 19th century Romantic opera continued to grow in popularity and, by the end of that century, verismo opera was also on the rise. In the 20th century, opera underwent many changes; some operas were written to be performed in non-traditional venues such as movie theatres, while others were composed in specific response to political events such as the rise of fascism or communism. Today, opera is enjoyed all over the world and there are more than fifty thousand professional opera singers working in various companies.

The Different Opera Houses

There are different types of opera house, but the four main categories are public opera houses, state opera houses, private opera houses, and festival opera houses.

Public opera houses are usually built and operated with public money and are open to the public. They tend to be some of the biggest and most famous opera houses in the world.

The best-known public opera house is probably the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, which is one of the leading Opera Houses in Europe. Other public Opera Houses include The Royal Opera House in London, England; The Paris Opera in Paris, France; The Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria; The New York Metropolitan Opera in New York City, USA; and The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

State opera houses are usually built and operated with money from the government of the country or state where they are located. State opera houses tend to be just as big and famous as public opera houses.

The largest state opera house in Germany is the Berlin State Opera, which has been home to some of the world’s greatest singers including Maria Callas, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Placido Domingo, and Anna Netrebko. Other stateopera houses include La Fenice in Venice, Italy; The Bavarian State Operain Munich, Germany; The Dresden State Opera in Dresden, Germany; Teatro Colonin Buenos Aires Argentina; The Mariinsky Theatrein Saint Petersburg Russia; and The Gran Teatre del Liceuin Barcelona Spain.

Private opera companiesOpera companies may also be private businesses or organizations that do not receive any public or government funding. These companies typically rely on ticket sales and private donations to finance their operations.
One example of a private company is English NationalOpera (ENO), which is based at the London Coliseum theatre. Otherprivate companies include Canadian operacompanies such as Canadian Operaand Toronto OperettaTheatre; US companies such as Houston GrandOperaand San Francisco Opera; Australiancompanies such as VictorianOperaand State TheatreCompany South Australia;and Europeancompanies such as Deutsche Oper am Rheinand Opéra de Monte-Carlo.
Festivalopera companies Somefestivals organize their own temporaryopera companies for specific occasions using a mix of professionaland amateur singers. These include GlyndebourneFestivalOperaand GarsingtonOperafestivalin England; Adelaide Festivalof Artsin Australia; Bregenz Festivalin Austria; Salzburg Festivalsin Austria (which includes Mozartwoche); Edinburgh Festivalfringein Scotland (which includes Edinburgh InternationalFestival); Wexford Festival Operain Ireland; Spoleto Festivaldi due mondiin Italy and CharlestonUS).

The Different Roles in Opera

Opera is a form of musical theatre that combines acting, singing, and orchestral music to tell a story. The word “opera” comes from the Italian word for “work”.

There are different types of roles in opera:

The lead roles are the protagonists of the story and usually have the most stage time and the most demanding vocal parts. The lead roles are also sometimes called “the love interest”.

The secondary roles are characters who support the lead role or further the plot. They usually have less stage time and less demanding vocal parts.

The supporting roles are characters who help fill out the world of the opera but don’t necessarily further the plot. They often have very little stage time and their vocal parts are not as demanding.

Then there are what are called supernumerary roles. These are non-singing, non-speaking roles that help create the atmosphere of the piece (such as soldiers, attendants, courtiers, servants, etc.). Supernumeraries are often amateur performers or students studying opera.

The Different Types of Opera Music

Opera is a type of stage performance that combines music and drama. It started in Italy in the early 16th century and quickly spread to other parts of Europe. Although it has undergone many changes over the years, opera remains a popular form of entertainment.

There are three main types of opera: grand opera, comic opera, and opera seria. Grand opera is the most prestigious and lavish type of opera. It usually has a serious plot and is performed in a large theater. Comic opera is lighter in tone and often features love stories with happy endings. Opera seria is a type of serious opera that became popular in the 18th century.

Opera music is usually divided into two categories: recitative and da capo aria. Recitative is speech-like singing that advances the plot. Da capo aria is formal, highly stylized singing that was popular in 17th- and 18th-century operas. Today, many operas use both types of music.

The Different Opera Singers

There are four main types of opera singers: sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, tenors, and basses. Each type of singer has a different vocal range.

Sopranos are the highest type of opera singer. They usually sing in register II, which is the highest range for human voices. Mezzo-sopranos sing in register I, which is lower than sopranos but higher than tenors. Tenors sing in register III, which is lower than mezzo-sopranos but higher than basses. Basses sing in register IV, which is the lowest range for human voices.

There are also subtypes of each main type of opera singer. For example, there are coloratura sopranos and dramatic sopranos. Coloratura sopranos have a very light voice and can sing very high notes; they are often cast as young heroines or princesses. Dramatic sopranos have a fuller voice and can sing lower notes; they are often cast as older heroines or mothers.

Within each main type and subtype of opera singer, there is even more diversity. Each singer has a unique voice that brings something special to the role they are singing.

The Different Opera Composers

Composers of Opera:

There are many great composers of opera. Some well-known names include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, and Richard Wagner. These composers have written some of the most popular and well-loved operas of all time.

Opera is a form of musical theatre that originated in Italy in the late 16th century. It is usually characterized by beautiful singing, lavish costumes, and grandiose sets. Opera tells a story using music, lyrics, and sometimes dance.

Some of the most famous operas are “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart, “La Traviata” by Verdi, and “The Flying Dutchman” by Wagner. These operas are still performed regularly all over the world and are enjoyed by opera fans of all ages.

The Different Opera Performances

Opera is a type of musical theatre that emerged in the seventeenth century in Italy, and quickly spread to the rest of Europe. Over the next few centuries, opera evolved and changed, developing into different types and sub-genres. Today, there are four main types of opera performance – grand opera, comic opera, chamber opera, and verismo.

Grand Opera:

The grandest and most lavish type of opera performance, grand opera is characterized by large-scale sets and costumes, an orchestra pit filled with musicians, and sometimes even real animals on stage! Grand operas often tell epic stories of love and loss, war and peace, with a dramatic plot that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. Notable examples of grand operas include Verdi’s Aida and Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Comic Opera:

As the name suggests, comic operas are operas that are light-hearted and funny, often with a love story at their heart. They usually have a happy ending (unlike many grand operas!) Comic operas often make use of wordplay and puns in the dialogue, as well as exaggerated characters and situations for comedic effect. Famous examples include Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Chamber Opera:

A chamber opera is a small-scale opera, usually with just a few singers supported by a piano or chamber orchestra. These intimate performances allow audiences to really connect with the emotions of the characters on stage. They often tell personal stories with universal themes, making them relatable for everyone. Some well-known chamber operas include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

Verismo Opera:

Verismo opera is a style of OPERA that developed in Italy in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It was a reaction to the grandiose dramas of grand opera, instead focusing on more realistic (or “verismo”) stories about everyday people. These operas often had tragic endings (unlike comic operas), reflecting the harsh realities faced by many people at the time. Famous verismo operas include Puccini’s La Bohème and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

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