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Italian &Amp; French Opera

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Autor:  anton  04 November 2010
Tags:  Italian,  French
Words: 533   |   Pages: 3
Views: 750

Italian and French Opera

Opera, a drama consisting primarily by singing, was slow to develop in its beginnings, but once it had established itself in Italy, opera slowly gained interest in France. Comparisons between French and Italian culture in all its parts, including music, were common in the 17th and 18th century, and France soon started to develop its own traditions of sung drama, which set it apart from Italian opera that would dominate through most of the 18th century. Opera reached its peak in the 17th century. Vast audiences would attend the opera every night and would use the occasion as a chance to socialize and share any gossip. The opera itself was only background for their conversations until a favorite artist came onto the stage. Though Italian opera was most popular, each had its own unique features that made both Italian and French opera special.

Opera was born in Italy; Florence, Italy to be exact. Performed in large-scale theaters, French opera was, at first, only performed at events such as the weddings of nobility, but with the building of the first public opera house in Venice, opera became accessible to all. The main type of Italian opera for its time was called opera seria. Developed in Italy and sung in Italian, opera seria was under the influence of Classical antiquity where the rulers were heroic and place honor above personal gain. To help set the mood during the opera, vast scenery and props were used while characters were properly dressed. France, on the other hand, did not see its first opera until 1662, and even then it failed to interest the court. This was for political reasons. At the time anti-Italian forces within the court undermined the introduction of Italian opera into its country. Also, the French nobility could not think of a reason for listening to such sung drama from beginning to end at once. They did not understand the artistic flare of a sung drama and would much rather enjoy plays with spoken word.

This is why, during two-thirds of the 17th century, France preferred the musical nature of the ballet de cour. Arising from the 1580s, ballet de cour combined song, dance and instrumental music to create a symbolic type of performance. These performances contained deeper meanings through the means of a story or scene that was acted out. With the help of, Italian immigrant, Jean-Baptiste Lully, sung drama became the established new genre of part opera, part ballet. Later Lully, along with a few key people, created the tragedie en musique. This operatic genre consisted five acts of entirely sung drama, each divided into several different scenes, and an overture that moved from slow dotted rhythms to a fast imitative portion.

In conclusion, Italian and French opera have their own unique features that make them great. Within the change of culture, a change in the styles and forms through music and performance can be seen. These two distinctive traditions in opera portrayed to two relatively different audiences with certain expectations in mind, leading to the future expansion into instrumental music.

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