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Chapter 17: Romantic Opera Verdi and Italian Opera.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 17: Romantic Opera Verdi and Italian Opera."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 17: Romantic Opera Verdi and Italian Opera

2 Key Terms Italian opera Verdian recitative, aria, and ensemble Exoticism Arioso

3 Verdi and Italian Opera Greatest Romantic Italian opera composer Dominated 19th century opera houses Unswerving commitment to human voice Opera was about singing Adhered to Italian bel canto principles Wrote increasingly beautiful melodies But Verdi cared most about the drama Real people in realistic situations that elicit strong emotions & exciting actions

4 Giuseppe Verdi ( ) Son of north Italian small town storekeeper Scored first hit at age 29 with Nabucco Hebrew slave hymn echoed Italy’s “captivity” Three 1850s operas brought him fame Rigoletto, Il trovatore, & La traviata Coaxed out of retirement for last 2 operas Shakesperean subjects – Otello & Falstaff All Italy mourned his death at age 88 Schools closed, 300,000 saw him to his grave

5 Recitative and Aria: The Orchestra (1) Orchestra plays richer role in Verdi than in previous Italian opera More active & excited as it supports voices Expanded role in recitative especially Italian opera kept old recitative/aria split Recitative for dialogue & action Aria for reflective, emotional expression Verdi now accompanies plot action & dialogue with full orchestra

6 Recitative and Aria: The Orchestra (2) “Recitative” no longer an apt name Not at all like Baroque or Classical recitative Highly dramatic action music Verges on becoming full-fledged melody Arias now equally dramatic & exuberant But formally complete & distinct Often use simple strophic forms Orchestra’s role somewhat more subdued here Use of rich harmonies to underpin high points e.g., “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto

7 Verdi, Aida One of the most frequently performed of all operas Features gorgeous arias & duets Grandiose stage display, including elephants Exotic locale in ancient Egypt But a red-blooded, human drama Written for new Cairo opera house At time of the Suez Canal opening in 1869 Cairo première in 1871

8 Background (1) Tragic love triangle in time of war Egyptian general Radames is secretly in love with Ethiopian slave Aida Aida is actually daughter to Ethiopia’s king Egyptian princess Amneris loves Radames Radames is tricked into revealing his battle plans to Aida Amneris discovers their tryst She turns him over to the priests as a traitor Aida escapes in the confusion

9 Background (2) Amneris offers to save Radames if… But he would rather die than live without Aida She realizes she has doomed the man she loves…but too late Radames makes no defense at his trial One of the opera’s most dramatic scenes Priests sentence him to be buried alive in a tomb under the temple, sealed by a huge stone

10 Verdi, Aida Tomb Scene (1) Striking stage set for opera’s final scene Below, Radames’ tomb Above, a temple with altar & colossal statues As Radames laments his fate, he discovers Aida in the tomb with him She hid there, not wanting to live without him Builds from recitative to arioso to duet Recitatives begins as simple declamation Each one builds to intense, melodic climax Rich, dramatic orchestral & harmonic support

11 Verdi, Aida Tomb Scene (2) Ariosos more concise & tunelike Orchestra more subdued, subservient Their duet is an ecstatic farewell to earth Above, Amneris prays that they rest in peace Priests & priestesses sing hymn to Ptah

12 Verdi, Aida Tomb Scene (3) Their gorgeous duet ends the opera Exquisite orchestral colors & harmonies Their ecstatic love seems to transcend death Set against Amneris’ grief & priests’ hymn


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