Types Of Opera

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The most comprehensive list of Opera Music genres available on the Internet. The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of opera music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of types of opera music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any opera music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the list. Opera buffa, also continuing from the Baroque period, but more a product of the Classical than Opera seria; began as a type of “intermezzo” (an entertainment in between the acts of an Opera seria); characters were typically contemporary and often depicted the lower classes or a mixture of lower and upper classes (with the.

You may have heard the term recitative when you hear people talk about opera, but what exactly is recitative? This is my definition of recitative – any semi-spoken, semi-sung non-repetitive part of an opera that advances the action. Typically, the earlier the opera is, the easier it is to distinguish between recitative and other operatic sections, such as arias or ensemble pieces.

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Soprano-the highest of the female voice types, the soprano has always had a place of prominence in the hierarchy of vocal types. In the operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the 'heroine' or protagonist of an opera. As is true of the other voice types, there are sub-categories of soprano, a few of which are listed here. There are five main types of Chinese Han opera: Beijing, Henan, Huangmei, Yue, and Cantonese Opera.

Don’t just take my word for it; listen to the great Leonard Bernstein talk about recitative…

There are a couple types of recitative:

  1. Recitativo secco, or “dry” recitative. This is the easiest to recognize because it is simply a vocalist with a continuo accompaniment, typically a harpsichord or a fortepiano. An example:


    Listen to this section from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, beginning around 23:00

  2. Recitativo accompagnato – this is recitative accompanied by a full orchestra. You’ll often notice an inconsistent musical tempo that varies with the words being sung/spoken. An example:


    Donna Elvira from Mozart’s Don Giovanni

A related operatic device is the arioso, which is often difficult to distinguish from recitativo accompagnato. An example:


Listen to the first couple minutes of this excerpt from Verdi’s La Traviata

Do you hear the spoken feel of recitative with the more consistent tempo of an aria?

Historically, recitative is where the action happens – quarrels between characters, storytelling, love confessions, and the like. Arias and ensemble pieces, the “songs” of an opera, are typically where we get reflection on the actions explained in the recitatives.

As I mentioned above, the earlier the opera, the more these distinctions and definitions hold true. By the mid to late 1800s (think late Verdi and Wagner and early/middle Puccini), composers were pushing the limits of these conventions, thus blurring the distinct boundaries found in most operas of the previous two centuries.

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Opera

Voice Types in Opera - Soprano Operamania.com

Voice TypeVideoExtracted from
Coloratura soprano

Joan Sutherland

Edita Gruberova

June Anderson

Mariella Devia

Kathleen Battle

Sumi Jo

Mariella Devia - Spargi d'amaro pianto

Lyric soprano

Mirella Freni

Renata Tebaldi

Monterrat Caballe

Kiri Te Kanawa

Mirella Freni - Si, mi chiamano Mimi

Dramatic soprano

Leontyne Price

Zinka Milanov

Aprile Millo

Cheryl Studer

Birgit Nilsson

Eva Marton

Maria Callas

Raina Kabaivanska - Miserere

Soprano--the highest of the female voice types, the soprano has always had a place of prominence in the hierarchy of vocal types. In the operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the 'heroine' or protagonist of an opera. As is true of the other voice types, there are sub-categories of soprano, a few of which are listed here:

Coloratura soprano--a female voice with an 'upper extension' of high notes and a light quality or color which allows the voice to be capable of rapid and highly ornamented passages. The roles of Lakmé, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos are examples of coloratura soprano roles. There are, however, roles that demand the upper extension and flexibility of voice yet with a heavier quality or darker color. These are dramatic coloratura roles. The role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute demands such a voice, as do the Verdi roles of Lady Macbeth and Abagaille in Nabucco.

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Lyric soprano--a female voice that is 'silkier' in texture or quality and has a lower range than the coloratura. The role of Micaëla in Carmen is a lyric soprano, as is Pamina in The Magic Flute and, although a bit more demanding, Mimì in La bohème. Heavier lyric roles might include Gounod's Juliette or Marguerite in Faust, Rusalka, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Violetta in La traviata, although the latter role makes great demands in terms of both coloratura and dramatic heft.

Dramatic soprano--the 'heaviest' or most darkly-colored of the soprano types. As the name implies, the requirements for this voice type go beyond the lyric repertoire because of the strenuous dramatic demands. In the Italian repertoire, Tosca, Butterfly, Aida, Norma and Leonora (Il trovatore) would be considered dramatic soprano roles. In the German repertoire, Brünnhilde, Sieglinde, Leonore (Fidelio) and Isolde would be considered dramatic soprano roles. The range for the dramatic soprano is generally somewhat lower than the lyric or lyric-spinto, but often she is called upon to sing high passages for dramatic emphasis, making these roles quite strenuous for younger singers.

The list of singers given as examples for each of the voice types is not obviously meant to be exhaustive, and many great singers are missing. Also note that some of the great stars expanded their repertoire well beyond a single voice type: Maria Callas not only performed masterfully from coloratura to dramatic soprano, but even adventured in Mezzo roles as Carmen or Rosina (The Barber of Seville).

Mezzo / ContraltoTenorBaritone / Bass

(c) Text reproduced with permission from www.operapaedia.org and San Diego Opera

Opera

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