Opera facts

Foto: Marie Louise Nijsing
Foto: Marie Louise Nijsing

Like many plays, an opera consists of deeds or companies (main parts) in which the acts take place. Each deed again consists of scenes or scenes. When one or more characters leave the stage, a new scene starts.

Aria (literally air, breath)
A song for one singer, in which he or she can express a feeling. In its original form the aria does not contribute to the action, the story being told stands still for a moment, the viewer witnesses the expression of feeling. The arias are often the vocal highlights of the opera: the “hits”.

Beicanto (Italian for clean, beautiful vocals)
Italian art of singing between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, in which the sound had to be transmitted as naturally and regularly as possible. Important here is (the beauty of) sound, which can be at the expense of dramatic expression. The solo singer was given an important place in the performance because the composer gave him the space for a virtuoso decoration of the melody. In the operas of the composers Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi, the belcanto clearly appears.

A short, lyrical piece for a soloist.

Final piece of a larger music piece. In opera, the final is the final scene of a deed.

The text of an opera. Sometimes the composer writes the libretto himself, but usually there is a separate copywriter: the librettist.

Modern form of opera or operetta created in America. A musical also takes place in a setting and there is singing and acting. The vocal technique is a big difference: opera singers are trained to sing without amplification, so without a microphone. The show element is also important.

A play on music. The actors in an opera are singers who do not pronounce their lyrics but sing. Because opera contains many different elements (music, theater, image, language), we call it a complex art form. This originated around 1600 in Italy and was from then until the beginning of the twentieth century the leading music genre.

Opera buffa (Italian for cheerful, comic opera)
Italian opera house from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, originating from the Commedia dell’Arte (theater). Initially, the opera buffa was a short, comical interlude that was performed at the beginning of the eighteenth century in the pause of an opera seria. Based on these first steps, the opera buffa developed into an independent opera genre. For the opera buffa, everyday, stereotypical characters were used, who commented on political and social situations in the form of a satire. The most famous opera buffa is probably Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Opera seria (Italian for serious opera)
Italian opera genre that developed from various style elements at the end of the seventeenth century into a theater genre with an elevated character. The subjects for this opera were derived from mythology, from historical sources and from the classical hero dramas from Greek antiquity and were mostly about high-ranking characters.

Cheerful musical stage genre with spoken dialogues, songs and dances, which Jacques Offenbach blossomed in Paris around 1850. The operetta, which also originated as a parody of the opera, always took the entertainment needs of the audience into account. The era of the operetta ran from circa 1850 to circa 1950. The fundamental distinction with the opera lies in the bold, satirical or sweetish sentimental undertone and the music and the theme are always lighter.

The opera usually opens with an overture or opening piece. Only the orchestra plays in the overture. There is no singing yet. It incorporates parts of the music that will later return to the opera.

Role in which the actor / singer performs, character that he proposes.

Music part that must be performed by a specific voice or instrument.

The written recording of all musical lines in an opera or other piece of music. In the score all notes of the simultaneously sounding instruments of the orchestra and voices of the singers are displayed below each other. The score thus gives an exact impression of the progress of the music. For the conductor, the score is indispensable for the preparation of the performance. He leads the opera musically from the score.

Recitative (half sing, half talk)
The sung or spoken text in an opera that connects arias or ensemble numbers. In the recitative, the development of the story takes place, in contrast to the aria that expresses the emotional response to the story. The intelligibility of the sung or spoken word in the recitative is therefore important. There is a distinction between “recitativo secco”, which is only accompanied by a stringed instrument (eg harpsichord or cello) and “recitativo accompagnato”, which has extensive guidance.

A schedule is drawn up by the opera company, stating when soloists and choir members rehearse with the repetitor (pianist). All singers must know their party before the rehearsals start. Reading, musical and theater rehearsals take place during a rehearsal period (four to six weeks), in which scenes are rehearsed.
The entire opera is rehearsed from start to finish at the Sitz and Bühneprobe (seating and stage rehearsal). During the Sitzprobe in particular the musical part is treated and during the Bühneprobe the direction. In the week before the premiere, the pre-generals (piano general, pre-general with orchestra and general with orchestra are also called avant-premieres). At Opera Zuid, rehearsals take place in the Studio (rehearsal room) for four weeks. Then, in the last two weeks before the premiere, the rehearsals take place in the premiere theater.

When you talk about a role with singers, it means the character or character being played or suggested.