Unit XXChoral and Dramatic Music in the Nineteenth Century Chapter 58 Romantic Opera
Definition • Drama that is sung. Combines soloists, ensembles, chorus, orchestra, ballet, poetry and drama, acting, pantomime, scenery, and costumes. • While suspension of disbelief is a main tenet of opera (characters that sing?), the same is true of poetic Shakespeare monologues, etc.
French National Style • Grand opera • Serious, historical themes • Full of spectacle • Huge choruses • Crowd scenes • Dance episodes • Ornate costumes and scenery • Sung throughout
French Opera • Opéra comique • Smaller performing forces • Simpler style • Includes spoken dialogue • Lyric opera • Hybrid form, featuring appealing melodies and romantic drama. • Sung throughout
German Opera • Singspiel • German comic opera form • Uses spoken dialogue • Grand opera • German Romantic opera reveled in the supernatural (Weber, Der Frieshütz) • Use of simple, direct, almost folk-like melodies
German Opera • Music drama • Invention of Richard Wagner • Attempted to blend all arts in the service of the drama
Italian Opera • Opera seria • Serious in character • Usually grand historical, mythic subjects • Sung throughout • Opera buffa - Italian comic opera; sung throughout. • Italian opera is dominated by bel canto style--florid melodic lines sung by voices of great agility and purity of tone.
Exoticism in Romantic Opera • Far-off lands provided fertile ground for the creativity of the Romantic composer. • Authenticity was not the primary concern. Instead, the picturesque atmosphere of foreign lands, sounds, sights and customs as imagined by the composer was primary. • While the musical language remained distinctly western, it was flavored by melodies, harmonies and rhythms of the faraway locales.
Examples of Exoticism in Opera • Verdi, Aïda • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), Samson and Delilah • Richard Strauss, Salome, Elektra • Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), Turandot, Madame Butterfly • Georges Bizet (1838-75), Carmen
Women in Opera in the Nineteenth Century • Opera provided great visibility for women. Some composers also gained limited prominence. • Louise Bertin • 1805-77 • Had several operas produced at the Opéra-Comique in Paris including Esmerelda (1836) - based on the Hugo novel about the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Jenny Lind • 1820-87 • One of the most prominent sopranos of all time. • Known as the "Swedish Nightengale" • Made her American debut in 1850 in a national tour managed by circus impressario P. T. Barnum
Maria Malibran • 1808-1836 • Oldest daughter of famed Spanish tenor Manuel Garcia. • Renowned interpreter of Rossini. • Died in a riding accident.
Pauline Viardot • 1821-1910 • Youngest daughter of Manuel Garcia. • Premiered works for Brahms, Schumann, Berlioz • Her artistry is responsible for furthering many men’s careers including Gounod, Massenet and Fauré.