Operas: History and Overview

Opera is an Italian word that means “work” (labor done). Its first usage in artistic context came in 1639 when it was defined as “a composition involving the combination of poetry, dance, and music.” Opera is one of the oldest entertainment arts. It’s an art form that involves a dramatic work in which singers and musicians perform a performance with the combination of texts and musical score, usually in a theatre. The art includes many of the regular contemporary theatrical works, including acting, scenery, costumes, and even including dance sometimes. Opera exhibitions and performances usually take place in a large, covered arena called an opera house. An orchestra accompanies performances. Origin of Opera Opera is an art that has existed for hundreds of years, and its practice took many forms in different cultures and locations. It was initially enjoyed in Western Europe, in Italian and French royal gatherings and courts. The art emerged from the need to entertain distinguished guests and dignitaries or rulers, to project a positive of them. They featured vast, elegant processions and glamorous stage effects that often told stories drawn from classical mythology. A notable thing about these events is that many of them often centered on the wealth and affluence of the elite culture. The emergence of opera can be traced to the end of the sixteenth century. It started in Italy with the first work (Peri’s lost Dafne) produced in Florence in 1598. The art went on to spread through every major city in Europe. Italian opera dominated most of Europe from the sixteenth century through the eighteenth century. Eighteenth-Century Two Opera forms developed in the eighteenth century, namely; ‘opera seria’ (serious opera) and ‘opera buffa’ (comic opera). The comic opera was a more flexible and less serious version of the ‘opera seria’ which allowed the talented performers to introduce comic relief to the art. Mozart was the most famous opera figure of the late eighteenth century. He was recognized for his humorous opera renditions, producing such acclaimed works as Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute. Nineteenth Century Opera came into its ‘golden era’ between the mid to late nineteenth century when Wagner dominated it in Germany and Verdi in Italy. During this period, many European countries were all about Nationalism, and opera was seen as an opportunity and means to show solidarity and patriotism. Several operatic styles and composers developed during this era, featuring notable works like Carmen (Bizet), The Flying Dutchman (Wagner), Parsifal (Wagner), etc. Twentieth Century The twentieth-century opera experienced a more individualistic approach. Performers adopted methods and themes best suited for their audiences. This period came with a higher level of sophistication, with lots of money spent on stage setup and equipment. It featured an intensive use of metalworks with the deployment of fabrication tools like angle gliders, which were used to cut metals, though crude and without spindle lock, unlike the ones we have today. Notable acts of the twentieth-century opera include Puccini (Italy), Strauss (Germany), Alban Berg (Austria), etc. Common Terminologies Used in Opera Below are some of the standard terms used in opera. Aria: refers to a piece meant for one singer. Baritone: refers to the middle singing tone of a male, and it’s located between tenor and bass ranges. Bass: refers to the lowest male singing tone. It’s used to portray a buffoonish older man in comic opera. Continuo: refers to a harpsichord and a cello. Contralto: refers to the lowest female voice. Diva: refers to an important female or goddess. Countertenor: refers to the highest male voice. Opera buffa: refers to comic opera. Opera serio: refers to serious opera. Dramma giocoso: refers to a sub-category of opera buffa. Mezzo-Soprano: refers to the middle singing voice of a female. Soprano: the most common female singing voice. It’s also the highest. Tenor: the highest singing voice of an adult male. Top 8 Famous Opera Houses in the World Here’s a list of eight of the best opera houses in the world.  The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy, is regarded as the oldest working opera house. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia. Glyndebourne Opera House, East Sussex, England. La Scala Opera House, London, England. Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy. Teatro Colon, Bueno Aires, Argentina. Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, Russia. Palais Garnier, Paris, France. Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria. Conclusion While opera is an old art, it has continuously evolved over the years. Technological advancement has also contributed to its growth as it now enjoys a massive coverage that wasn’t available during the pre-digital ages. Many composers and groups are spread worldwide, further improving the works of the pioneers.


4 Ways to Give Your Opera House a Makeover

Performance is an aspect of human experience. During shows, protagonists take the lead role of a tragedy, joy, farce, comedy or farce tale. However, what’s attractive about the entire paradox is that each individual is the main actor in personal narratives. At the same time, you’re a support for several other narratives, and a spectator of many more. An opera is an excellent form of entertainment and a way to spend your leisure time. Whether you partake in it as a performer or audience, the time spent in an opera house is worthwhile. Local communities and economies also benefit from performing arts and theater. Arts and culture, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, contribute up to 3.2% of the US GDP, translating to US$ 504 billion. What’s more, the arts and culture industry, according to the Americans for the Arts, employs over 5.4 million Americans. This indicates the essence of opera houses and other industry players. Other benefits of an opera house and related performances include: Support for local artists Affordable for all and makes a good way to relax The musicals are great and grand openings eye-catching It supercharges your brainpower and reduces your stress levels among other health benefits. To continue supporting the arts and culture industry through opera performance, an opera makeover can benefit your business. Here’s how: Top 4 Opera House Makeovers for Improved Viewer Experience Install a flexible yet robust lighting system Your opera house requires proper cinematic light control. Install a lighting system with the ability to gradually light the opera space, or turn it off and on. Consider installing dimmers, rope lights, soffits, and recessed lights for a layered look and feel in your opera house. Built around the perimeter of the interior space and inlaid with rope lights, soffits come as long trays often installed near the ceiling. Add small recessed lights in the ceiling or to the bottom edge of the soffits for a classic ambiance in the opera house when there’s an ongoing performance. Make sure the lights are installed on the rear end of the house to ensure that your viewers get upgraded viewing experience. Windows can also upgrade your lighting system. But… For an opera house, you have to keep the windows to the minimum. This is attributed to the fact that windows reflect sound, hence leading to distortion of audio. What’s more, the light coming in through windows can reflect onto the stage. With excessive lighting on stage, the audience’s viewing experience is impaired. Use heavy shades, drapes or blinds and curtains, closing them each time there’s an opera performance. Blackout window treatments run tight against window jambs, completely sealing out the light from the outdoors for better lighting control. Install wooden stage flooring Another way to give your opera house a makeover is by replacing its flooring. Install wooden flooring for the range of benefits it offers. For instance, a mahogany floor would be easier to clean atop being less slippery for performers on stage. When working on the wooden flooring, including various projects involving woodworking tools, you’ll need saws to cut wood. Planer saws smooth out wood surfaces when working on your flooring opera house makeover project. Paint the ceiling and walls dark Bright paint colors tend to reflect light, causing distraction and impairing vision during performances. Opt for flat paint or eggshell that fights reflection instead of semi-gloss or gloss sheens. The darker the paint colors, the better the viewing experience of your audience. Tans, neutral browns and olive paint colors are recommended for your opera house. Bright colors such as blue and red give an odd cast to ambient lighting, hence affecting the user’s viewing experience of performances on stage. Dark-colored wall paints help control lighting for better ambience and viewing experience. Also tone down ceiling colors with neutrals or grays for better ambience. Revamp your seating and viewing area The best view of the opera stage isn’t too far or close, nor blocked. Add luxury to your opera house with tiered seating for improved comfort. Raise rear seats to eliminate any blockage. Boosting seats even just 6 inches high can make a big difference in your audience’s viewing experience. It clears all sightlines in the opera house. However, the size of the opera house in relation to the performance stage affects viewing distance. If you’re using a projector, upgrade the technology to cater to the needs of all viewers. This would ensure that even those seated closer to the stage aren’t overwhelmed by light from the projector screen. Choose comfortable seats with standard backs and a forward-facing design to ensure that viewers in the hind seats aren’t blocked or obstructed.