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Opera – Oratorio – Cantata - Passion

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1 Opera – Oratorio – Cantata - Passion
Baroque Vocal Music Opera – Oratorio – Cantata - Passion

2 Opera A large-scale dramatic work, staged, with costumes, acting, lighting, scene changes etc. Watch the final scene from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell. In it, you will hear recitative, a chorus, and an aria containing a ground bass.

3 Oratorio A large-scale vocal work, always based on a religious theme.
Not acted, no costumes, scenery or lighting. Watch and listen to a section from Handel’s Messiah. You will hear a recitative and aria sung by a countertenor, followed by a chorus.

4 Cantata A shorter version of an oratorio, it may only last minutes. It will usually contain chorus, recitative, aria and a chorale at the end. Listen to extracts from J.S.Bach’s cantata Wachet Auf (‘Sleepers Wake’)

5 Passion An oratorio which focuses specifically on the story of the Crucifixion from the Bible. As with any other oratorio, it will contain recitative, arias, choruses and chorales. Composers such as Bach often included an obbligato in their arias. This is an important solo part for an instrument, which complements the solo singer. Listen to the aria Erbarme dich from Bach’s ‘St Matthew Passion’

6 Da Capo Aria A Da Capo Aria is basically written in ternary form.
The ‘A’ section is where the singer presents the main themes of the aria. The ‘B’ section will present some new ideas, and may be in a different key. The ‘A’ section is then repeated, but the solo singer will be expected to vary it and make it more interesting by adding some ornamentation. Listen to part of the alto aria He was despised and rejected from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as an example of this.

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