Key Terms Affect Coloratura Opera seria Libretto, librettist Secco recitative Accompanied recitative Aria Castrato, castrati Da capo form Oratorio Church cantata Chorale Gapped chorale
Vocal Music in the Baroque Era Always in demand for church, court, and theater Theories of musical expression –Musical devices corresponding to “affects” –A “musical vocabulary of the emotions” Theories applied most consistently in vocal music
Opera in the Baroque Era Flourished in Europe after 1600 –Reflected fascination with theater Most spectacular and influential genre –Combination of many art forms –Elaborate stage sets Intense emotional expression –Intricate plots, range of powerful emotions –Focus on virtuosity
Opera Seria Principal type of Baroque opera Designed to stir powerful emotions –Tragic plots from history and mythology Almost entirely solo singing Libretto built from a series of brief texts –Alternating prose and poetic texts –Alternating recitative and aria
Recitative Characteristics –Musical declamation of words –Free rhythm of emotional speech –Instrumental accompaniment Uses –Action or dialogue –Special emphasis on the words
Types of Recitative Secco recitative –Continuo accompaniment only –Maximum flexibility for singer Accompanied recitative –Orchestra in addition to continuo –Greater weight and emphasis –Reserved for most excited, emotional moments
Aria A set piece for solo singer and orchestra Much more melodic and elaborate than recitative Emotional reflection on action of the plot Usually da capo form (A B A) –Repeat of A ornamented by singer
Recitative vs. Aria Recitative Free, speechlike rhythms Pitches follow speech patterns Continuo accompaniment Prose text (words stated once) Advances the action (movement) Dialogue (free interaction) Aria Clear beat, consistent meter Pitches form melodic patterns and phrases Orchestral accompaniment Poetic text (phrases often repeated) Freezes the action (reflection) Soliloquy (expresses one emotion)
Castrati Singers castrated as boys to keep voices in soprano/alto range –Most worked in Italian churches –Years of intense vocal training Biggest virtuoso stars in Italian opera –Sang most important male roles –Voices highly prized
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) Born in Halle, near Leipzig Began career in Hamburg opera orchestra Success in Italy, 1706 Court musician for elector of Hanover (later King George I) Pursued career in London –Opera impresario –Later turned to oratorio
Handel, Julius Caesar Italian opera for London theater Historical fiction –Cleopatra has seduced Julius Caesar –Her brother, Ptolemy, murders Pompey, Caesar’s enemy –Ptolemy forces Pompey’s widow, Cornelia, into his harem –Sextus, Cornelia’s son, swears vengeance
Julius Caesar, “La giustizia” Typical da capo aria (A B A) A sets mood of anger and revenge B—subtle contrast Return of A—many ornaments
Julius Caesar, “La giustizia” La giustizia ha già sull’ arco Pronto strale alla vendetta Per punire un traditor. Quanto è tarda la saetta Tanto più crudele aspetta La sua pena un empio cor. Justice now has in its bow The arrow primed for vengeance To castigate a traitor! The later the arrow is shot The crueler is the pain suffered By a dastardly heart!
Baroque Sacred Music Placed special emphasis on choir Borrowed from secular music (opera) –Recitative and aria –Virtuoso solo singing Oratorio the most operatic genre
Oratorio Basically an opera on a religious subject –Often an Old Testament story –Narrative plot in several acts –Real characters and implied action –Recitatives and arias Presented in concert form –No scenery, costumes, staging, or gestures Incorporated many more choruses than opera
Baroque Chorus Similar to Renaissance choral music –Alternating polyphony and homophony –Some text painting Incorporates theatrical features –Narrates story, comments on action, participates in action –Dramatic contrasts and rests –Voices and orchestra for maximum fullness
Handel, Messiah Handel’s most famous work Composed in only 23 days Unlike other oratorios –Not a real “story” –Anonymous narrators and commentators Text entirely from Bible –Episodes from Jesus’ life (recitative) –Comments on episodes (recitative, aria, and chorus)
Recitative, “There were shepherds” Angels announce Christ’s birth Recitative in four parts –Alternating secco and accompanied Accompanied recitative reserved for dramatic moments Parts 3 and 4 accelerate the pace
Chorus, “Glory to God” Recitative and chorus Choir participates in the action Vivid contrasts in musical settings of the three phrases
Chorus, “Glory to God” “Glory to God in the highest” –High voices, high pitches, rhythmic unison –Energetic, marchlike “And peace on earth” –Low voices, low pitches, nearly monophonic –Slow, soft, calm, simple, unadorned “Good will toward men” –Fugal style, imitative entrances –Motive intensified in ascending sequence
Recitative and Chorus Recitative: There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo! The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Recitative and Chorus (cont’d.) And suddenly there was with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: Chorus: Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth. Good will toward men. Glory to God in the highest. And peace on earth. Good will toward men.
Handel, Hallelujah Chorus Famous chorus ends Part II Contrasting textures for each phrase –Homophony: –Monophony: “For the Lord God” –Polyphony:
Hallelujah Chorus Many dramatic moments “The Kingdom of this world is become” –Piano, low descending scale –Swells suddenly to forte in higher register “King of Kings” –Intensifying sequence near the end
Hallelujah Chorus Hallelujah, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The Kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. And He shall reign for ever and ever, and he shall reign for ever and ever. KING OF KINGS for ever and ever, Hallelujah! AND LORD OF LORDS for ever and ever, Hallelujah!
The Church Cantata Cantata = A work in several movements for voices and instruments –Sacred or secular texts –Solo voices, sometimes chorus Church cantata –Baroque sacred music genre –Written for Lutheran services in Germany –Always sacred text –Solo voices, usually chorus
The Lutheran Chorale Chorale = German congregational hymn –Emphasized in Lutheran services Cantatas used chorales in several ways –Single verse with simple harmonization –Chorale phrases with a point of imitation on each one –Chorale melody in spurts while other music runs on (gapped chorale)
Typical Bach Cantata Bach wrote over 200 cantatas Began with substantial chorus –Usually based on a chorale tune Continued with recitatives and arias Concluded with harmonized chorale –Selected to fit service’s Bible readings
Bach, Cantata No. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” Voices, string orchestra, and continuo Cantata for Easter Sunday Based on a chorale by Luther –Uses all seven stanzas (unusual) –Arranged symmetrically
Stanza 3 Tenor, solo violin, and continuo Gapped chorale setting Celebrates Christ’s victory over death Unusual passages point us to the words –Dramatic contrast at “Da bleibet nichts” –Pause after nichts (nothing) emphasizes stanza’s message
Stanza 3 Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn An unser Statt ist kommen Und hat die Sünde weggetan, Damit den Tod genommen All’ sein Recht und sein’ Gewalt; Da bleibet nichts—denn Tod’s Gestalt; Den Stach’l hat er verloren, Hallelujah! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Has come on our behalf, And has done away with our sins, Thereby robbing Death Of all his power and his might; There remains nothing but Death’s image; He has lost his sting. Hallelujah!
Stanza 4 Alto solo; soprano, tenor, and bass voices; continuo Alto sings gapped chorale melody Other voices introduce each phrase Expressive devices
Stanza 4 Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg, Da Tod und Leben rungen; Das Leben da behielt das Sieg, Es hat den Tod verschlungen. Die Schrift hat verkündiget das Wie ein Tod den andern frass; Ein Spott aus dem Tod ist worden. Hallelujah! It was a marvelous war Where Death and Life battled. Life there gained the victory; It completely swallowed up Death. Holy Scripture has proclaimed How one Death gobbled up the other; Death thus became a mockery. Hallelujah!
Stanza 7 Voices, orchestra, and continuo Straightforward presentation of the hymn Text turns to confidence of faith Music turns to restful, serene conclusion
Stanza 7 Wir essen und leben wohl Im rechten Osterfladen. Der alter Sauerteig nicht soll Sein bei dem Wort der Gnaden. Christus will die Koste sein Und speisen die Seel’ allein, Der Glaub’ will keins andern Leben. Hallelujah! We eat and live fitly On the true unleavened bread of the Passover The old yeast shall not Contaminate the word of grace. Christ will be the cost And alone will feed the soul: Faith will live on nothing else. Hallelujah!