Argument: the scenario of an opera.
Aria: a vocal or instrumental melody during which a character expresses their feelings and the singer their talents as a soloist.
Bel Canto: meaning “beautiful singing” in Italian, which is well named, given that this style of highly elaborate singing, that appeared in the 17th century requires both vocal virtuosity and an irreproachable technique. But not necessarily moderation.
Colorature: a very elaborate melody, characteristic of Italian bel canto. The Aria of the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute is a very good example. It also indicates by extension the performers of this type of aria: in the past the castratos, but today sopranos and mezzo-sopranos.
Finale: the last part of an act or work, after which, if all goes well, the audience should clap itself to death.
Libretto: the text of an opera.
Prima Donna: from the Italian for “first lady”. She is the singer who plays the leading role. The star of the show. Particularly since castratos (previously called the “primo uomo”) have vanished. Synonymous with diva (literally meaning “goddess”, and figuratively “someone who tires their entourage because of their constant demands”).
Overture: an essential piece of music in an opera, given that it lays the foundations. By opening the opera, as its name states, but also by displaying the main musical themes in a spectacular way. A good reason not to arrive late.
Singspiel: a German piece, which is spoken and sung, tinged with comedy, equivalent to comic opera or the English ballad opera. For example: Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio.
Tessiture: it describes the range of notes that a singer can reach without touching any extremes. Not to be confused with ambitus which, of course, takes in all of the notes that can been reached, including the extreme ones.
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