15 Facts About Italian opera


Italian opera is both the art of opera in Italy and opera in the Italian language.

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Opera was born in Italy around the year 1600 and Italian opera has continued to play a dominant role in the history of the form until the present day.

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Many famous operas in Italian were written by foreign composers, including Handel, Gluck and Mozart.

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Italian opera composers began composing in this style late in the 16th century, and it grew in part from the long-standing practice of performing polyphonic madrigals with one singer accompanied by an instrumental rendition of the other parts, as well as the rising popularity of more popular, more homophonic vocal genres such as the frottola and the villanella.

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Principal characteristics of Venetian Italian opera were more emphasis on formal arias; the beginning of bel canto style, and more attention to vocal elegance than to dramatic expression; less use of choral and orchestral music; complex and improbable plots; elaborate stage machinery; and short fanfarelike instrumental introductions, the prototypes of the later overture.

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Soon many other Italian opera houses had sprung up in the city, performing works for a paying public during the Carnival season.

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The Italian opera houses employed a very small orchestra to save money.

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Chief composer of early Venetian Italian opera was Monteverdi, who had moved to the republic from Mantua in 1613, with later important composers including Francesco Cavalli, Antonio Cesti, Antonio Sartorio, and Giovanni Legrenzi.

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Italian opera had already been performed in France in the 1640s to a mixed reception and Cavalli's foreign expedition ended in disaster.

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Italian opera belonged to the Arcadian Academy and was firmly in line with its theories.

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Only in the early years of the 18th century was the comic genre of Italian opera buffa born in Naples and it began to spread throughout Italy after 1730.

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Thanks to Galuppi, comic Italian opera acquired much more dignity than it had during the days of the intermezzo.

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Italian opera advocated that opera seria had to return to basics and that all the various elements—music, ballet, and staging—must be subservient to the overriding drama.

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Romantic Italian opera, which placed emphasis on the imagination and the emotions began to appear in the early 19th century, and because of its arias and music, gave more dimension to the extreme emotions which typified the theater of that era.

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Italian opera's first success was an "opera buffa", La cambiale di matrimonio .

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