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Lecture 10

MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Opera Buffa, Opera Seria, La Bohème

Music - Arts
Course Code
MUAR 211
Eric Smialek

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MUAR 211 Week 10 March 19-23, 2018
Romantic Opera 19/03/18
Italian and French Operas
The subject matter is the most important aspect
Belcanto: the opera style of madame butterfly
The vocal line is preeminent and the orchestral parts support that, but the vocal part is on
top of the rest.
19th century opera is all about drama
Similar to our movies
The arias and recitatvies are hard to tell about
Opera seria (Italian) & grand opera (French) = serious opera
Grand opera: French language (doesn’t matter what the nationality of the
composer is), very extravagant, often exotic to have more costumes and characters
Nobody can afford these kidns of presentations anymore
Opera buffa (Italian) & opera comique (French) = genres of comic opera
French operas often have ballet and dance in them
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1926)
Ex: Madame Butterfly
Soprano aria
Good example of exoticism: written by an Italian composer that tries to portray
things from Japan
- This is done using percussion and pentatonic scales (5 note scales that are
different from major and minor, so it sounds different to us)
- Exoticism is always about the audience, not about the people being depicted
(which is often derogatory)
She fantasizes about her husband returning, but it doesn’t play out how she
- He marries someone else and she kills herself
Ex: La Boheme
Reminiscence motive: melodies from earlier in the opera that might be associated
with a certain character and might be reinterpreted later
Serious opera
Arias and recitative not separated anymore
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