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Evolution Of Opera: Greek Drama To Baroque Opera

630 words - 3 pages

Donald Grout defines opera in, A Short History of Opera, as “a drama in music: a dramatic action, exhibited on stage with scenery by actors in costume, the words conveyed entirely or for the most part by singing, and the whole sustained and amplified by orchestral music” (4). A literal translation of the word opera is simply work, and although the term opera was not coined until 1634, one of the first known operas was preformed in 1597 (Grout 1). Grout explains that there are two types of opera; the first is when the main issue is music (Grout 6). Examples of this type of opera can be seen in the works of Lully and Wagner (Grout 7). The second type of opera is when the music and other factors are of equal importance (Grout 6). Mozart, Bellini, and Rossini composed operas that belong to the second type of opera (Grout 7). The origins of seventeenth century opera can be traced back to Greek drama, and medieval theatre. Throughout the seventeenth century different forms of opera could be found in various countries including, Italy, Germany, France, and England. To have a thorough understanding of opera it is important to find its roots.
Greek drama is said to be “the model on which the creators of modern opera at the end of the sixteenth century based their work on” (Grout 11). There are significant differences between Greek drama and opera. For instance, the casts of Greek dramas consisted of only men (Grout 13). Also Greek dramas were not entirely sung, many parts were spoken with the majority of the singing done by the chorus (Grout 12). The function of the chorus was to convey the audience’s response (Grout 12). By the second century BCE Greek drama went through significant changes including the disappearance of the chorus (Grout 14). Greek drama would only continue to evolve.
In the Middle Ages theatre was mainly religious (Grout...

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