Q: A perfect portrayal of the power of the human voice?
Originating in the royal courts of Italy in the 16th century, opera (translation: "work" or opus) was a grand attempt at restoring something akin to the ancient Greek chorus to the public stage.
By turns dramatic and spectacular, opera productions soon spread to other parts of Europe as an elite entertainment, but quickly transformed into more popular fare to attract wider audiences.
Although Italy still maintained dominance over the art form into the 18th century, Mozart became the most famous of opera composers of the time as he ushered in comic operas such as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German opera tradition.
With the ever growing popularity of opera in the 19th century, the bel canto ("beautiful singing") style emerged and was best typified by the works of composers such as Rossini and Donizetti. At the forefront of the bel canto era were spectacular stagings and orchestrations with which singers had to compete — resulting in equally impressive swoops, trills and high C's that required almost superhuman control and agility.
Following closely behind was the "golden age' of opera, exemplified by the works of Wagner and Verdi in the grand style, later joined by the verisimo era best typified by scenery-chewing "real life" drama in such works as Bizet'sCarmen. More popularly, Puccini's Tosca, Madame Butterfly and La Bohemeremain to tug at the heartstrings of young audiences even today.
Around the Web, check out the classics including singers, online
librettos, famous arias, history, opera appreciation and education....along with top sites for opera-related information, and a look at the lighter side of the ages-old art form ...
; With his signature aria "Nessun Dorma" (from
Luciano Pavarotti helped put opera on the pop culture map in the 20th century.
The Best Opera for Beginners - A favorite Hubpage with a wrap-up of the world's most popular operas with plot lines and videos of such classics as La Boheme, The Barber of Seville, Carmen and more.
Wikipedia - Opera - The grand sweep - with a complete history, a discussion on the emergence of singing styles, important composers, operas, and individual stars, related photos, references and resources.
- Prime sources to opera and opera-related sites, fan sites, e-zines
and more, courtesy of Stanford University.
- Opera singers, opera-related links, and a classical singer resource
including competitions, youth training programs, and workshops.
- Powerful, cross-searchable databases to past and future performances
around the world, news and reviews, opera houses, festivals, singers.