The Voice: Unlocked. BACH TO BASICS.

Bach to Basics

 

Hello again my wonderful Opera friend. I am so glad that you are back to see what is in store for you next.

The HSOF would like to present to you a lovely handbook that has been concocted for you: Opera 101. The genre of Opera has been around for over 400 years so it is a tad difficult to give you an in depth analysis of the whole category for we don’t want to overwhelm you with to much information. Alas, that shall not be a problem because you don’t necessarily need to know the genre inside out to enjoy it. As long as you have a grasping for the basics it will help your experience be more gratifying.

So here we go!

OPERA 101.

 First, we are going to break the genre and beginnings of Opera into 4 periods: Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th Century.

Let us start with the Baroque Period. This ran approximately from the 1600s to the 1750s. The art form was meant for wealthy courts and royal patrons across Europe, which explains the extravagantly ornamented character and style. Musically, composers and performers devised techniques to elaborate musical ornamentation as well as made changes in notation to develop new playing techniques. This was a major advance in the Classical cannon.

This year we are proud to present our highlighted show of the season, Handel’s Giulio Cesare with a Baroque Orchestra.

Baroque Opera

Example of scene in Baroque style

 

Next we have the Classical period. The definition is in the name, classic, going back to a simpler form and structure. The transition started in the mid to late 1700s. The goal was to create music that was light and elegant rather than serious and grand. Therefore dynamics (a musical term for the volume of a note) were a large part of these pieces. The importance of Classical music is to focus on the structure of a musical piece, phrase and motif. To bring perspective, the name you can associate and remember this era with is Mr. Mozart.

The next movement, the Romantic period spanned for a long time in the late 18th century dominating the arts for the better part of 2 centuries. Romanticism was a movement that was a reaction to the Industrial Movement and also a revolt against aristocracy and social/political norms of the age of enlightenment. This rebellion was embodied through the arts. Opera became bigger, more dramatic with a vast chorus and swelled orchestra.

Finally we have the 20th century. After so many talented composers created these stunning masterpieces this time period decided to honor them rather than to compose their own. Of course there are modern composers who still create wonderful pieces of music however the main focus of this time period was to honor and perhaps even recreate or modify works from the other periods by differing the amount of orchestral players used and creating dramas that are more intimate.

Visual Timeline

The next important thing that we need to learn is the different Voices that make up an opera. The information below is guideline for many of the singers have to explore outside of their ranges.

Soprano – highest female voice type, middle C to 2 C octaves above, heroine or leading lady

Mezzo – slightly lower, G below middle C to the A two octaves above, supporting role or villain

Counter – highest male voice, equivalent to mezzo-sopranos, G below middle C to a high F above one octave from middle C, Baroque roles

Tenor – leading male voice (and these guys are said to always get the lady), C below middle C to C above middle C

Baritone – middle male voice, second G below middle C to the G above it

Bass – lowest voice of all, E above middle C to the E two octaves below

Vocal Range

To conclude our wonderful handbook I will leave you with a couple of things. First, here is a list of definitions that will be helpful to know in regards to our upcoming Festival.

Act: A portion of an opera with it’s own dramatic structure

Aria: A solo piece written for a main character focusing on their emotion

Bravo: A literal form of applause shouted by members of the audience at the end of an especially pleasing performance. Bravo = male, Brava = female, Bravi = group. If you have it in you at the end of one of our performances, shout it out!

Chorus: A group of singers, who portray unnamed characters singing in unison or as an explanatory tool

Conductor: The leader of the Opera, sometimes known as the Maestro

Libreto: The texts/words of an Opera 

Operetta: A beautiful little category which is a genre of light opera. Light in both senses, musically and subject matter. In today’s English-language we know this genre closely related to Musical Theatre. This category is very important to make note of for we have an Operetta in our canon this season: Orpheus in the Underworld.

Second, here is a simple one sentence quote to understand the true essence of an Opera:

“Opera is when a Tenor and a Soprano want to make love, but are prevented from doing so by a Baritone’ – George Bernard Shaw

 

Stay tuned: As promised there are interviews and short videos currently being crafted in our mini series the Voice: Unlocked that will pop up in about a week or so! Ciao!

 

Introducing The Voice: Unlocked!

Welcome dear music lover to The Voice: Unlocked. This blog has been crafted specially for you. It will tell you the inside scoop about the 2014 Halifax Summer Opera Music Festival, educate you about the world of Opera and help you explore your love for classical music.

My name is Raeesa Lalani and I am here to share, enjoy, and best of all, love music with you.

The 2014 Halifax Summer Opera Music Festival has been up and running for 10 years so this is a very special year for us as it commemorates a decade of showcasing wonderful talent and a genre that sometimes is no longer on the forefront.

Here is a little bit about us. We are a workshop first and foremost. The aim is to educate and develop upcoming singers to bring out their true potential and hone their vocal and performing skills. Singers from all around the world audition to be a part of something prestigious; precisely the status we strive to obtain.

Not only do we focus on our performers, the audience is a very important factor of the festival. Therefore, the next aspect of the festival is just that: being a festival. Polishing performers to be the best they can be is only doable if it is for a particular purpose. That is why our audience is so important to us. The magic and beauty of song and performance is created for you to indulge in, and with great hope on our parts, for you to enjoy. Or at least stir some sort of emotion whether it be positive or negative. After all this is a learning experience and it is meant to teach, perhaps inspire, but also to induce a feeling.

So we want to personally welcome you, welcome to our world. We hope that we can enrich your lives with the striking, wondrous genre of Opera.