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Domenico Scarlatti 1685-1757. Alessandro Scarlatti 1660-1725. Da capo aria. A and B sections A section then repeated (“da capo” means literally “from the head”) Performers expected to improvise variations and ornaments during the repeated A section. Queen Anne of Austria.

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da capo aria
Da capo aria
  • A and B sections
  • A section then repeated (“da capo” means literally “from the head”)
  • Performers expected to improvise variations and ornaments during the repeated A section
the palace at versailles
The Palace at Versailles
  • Versailles
    • Landscaping
  • Hall of Mirrors
    • Extravagance
opera in france
Opera in France
  • Tragedie lyrique: combo of dance scenes, lyrical music and plot based upon courtly love.
  • Jean Bapiste Lully


father of French opera

french overture
French Overture
  • Overture is French for “opening”

2 sections, each repeated

    • First section homophonic, dotted rhythm, majestic (was supposed to signal the entry of the king) and slower
    • Second section polyphonic, faster
how evil is opera
How evil is opera?

a French critic, late 1600s:

Opera is a bizarre affair made up of poetry and music, in which the poet and the musician, each equally obstructed by the other, give themselves no end of trouble to produce a wretched work.

how evil is opera13
How evil is opera?

Opera was illegal in Rome in the early 1700s.

an English critic, 1872:

Opera is to be regarded “musically, philosophically, and ethically, as an almost unmixed evil.”

opera in england
Opera in England
  • James I (r. 1603-25)
  • Charles I (1625-490
    • Stuart Kings
    • Supported musical plays called “masques” to be performed in private palaces.
    • Very popular during this period of time.
commonwealth period
Commonwealth Period
  • 1649-60
  • Ruled by the Puritans
  • Opera, Stage Plays, Secular forms of entertainment were forbidden.
  • Considered blasphemous
  • Plays set to music could be performed if set with the proper precautions.
  • John Blow is the first English masque writer.
  • His pupil, Henry Purcell (1659) was the first major English Opera Composer.
dido and aeneas 1689
Dido and Aeneas (1689)
  • Dido, filled with grief meets her death. (loss of love)
  • Climbs a funeral pyre.
  • Music: descending line in ground bass is a sign of grief in baroque music.
  • Descending line paints “laid in earth.”
  • Use of ground bass.
  • Use of dotted rhythms to denote royalty.
dido and aeneas act iii dido s lament
Dido and Aeneas, Act III Dido’s Lament
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Adventures of Aeneas after the fall of Troy
  • Aeneas is stranded in Carthage, Northern African coast
  • Falls in love with Dido, Queen of Carthage
  • Aeneas pushes her away as he must leave for Italy…. Soon to be the founder of Rome.
after dido
After Dido . . .
  • English preferred spoken drama
  • Purcell wrote some “Semi-operas”
    • Example: The Fairy Queen (1692)
  • Opera had support of the monarchy in France and the public in Italy, but from neither in England
types of recitative
Types of Recitative
  • arioso – passages that lie somewhere between recitative and aria style
  • recitative semplice (simple recitative) – as speechlike as possible and accompanied only by basso continuo
  • recitative accompagnato (accompanied recitative) – used orchestra to dramatize tense situations