Posted: April 10th, 2015
Opera Review “Tancredi” – Tragic Love as a theme
The essay should be with 3000 words. It should be an opera review and the opera called “Tancredi” by Rossini. The one I have watched is in Opera du Lausanne in Switzerland. The main thing that I need is talk a bit about the story of this opera then mainly talk about the tragic love of the theme and compare Tancredi tragic love with other opera that is similar also about tragic love story. Compare both opera about the tragic love theme. You may also link the relationship of the main characters to the tragic love theme. I will upload the document that have example of doing an opera review, and other Tancredi review in 2009. Also with a link of the entire Opera Tancredi on youtube but without subtitle.
Lesson Outline: Understanding Opera
Opera: Preparation for class outing on Wednesday 1 October
Opera: Defining the Genre
Opera is a theatrical genre which involves the performance of a dramatic work by singers and musicians combining a libretto (text) and score (music). The literal meaning of the term is the plural of the Italian opus meaning work. The first operas in the western classical music tradition were written in Italy in the late sixteenth century. Although opera spread throughout Europe with the baroque era offering Lully in France and Purcell in England and the Classical era offering the many German works of Mozart, the romantic era saw opera gain even greater importance in its native Italy – with great figures including Verdi, Rossini and Puccini.
Baroque style (1600 – 1750): intricate and heavy style (Bach, Vivaldi…)
Classical style (1750 – 1820): lighter with clean sense of order and form (Mozart, Haydn)
Romantic style (1820 – 1910): rich textures and passionate expression (Chopin, Verdi)
Types of Song:
Recitative – sung conversation with sparse orchestral accompaniment
Aria – the operatic equivalent of a monologue/soliloquy. A soloist’s pause for reflection. Emotive. Vocally demanding. Strong orchestral support/presence
Duet/Trio – two or three singers considering some aspect of the drama, arguing, sharing emotions. Weightier content that recitative. Strong orchestral presence.
Chorus – large ensembles of characters or crowd scenes. Often rousing in nature.
Types of Voice:
The various voice types are listed below from highest to lowest in pitch. Typecasting as shown in the third column.
Female voices Male Voices Type of Role
Soprano Tenor Hero/Heroine
Mezzo (Soprano) Baritone Friend/Confidante/Supporting role
(Contr)alto Bass Villain
The effect of combining different voice types on stage for different types of song was discussed.
There are many sub-divisions of the above voice types… it is interesting to note the historical importance of the castrati. For the purposes of this opera, the blending of different vocal qualities is more important than vocal stereotyping.
Tancredi: Roles and Voices
Tancredi, an exiled soldier from Syracuse, is a contralto (or mezzo-soprano)
Amenaide, a noble lady in love with Tancredi, is a soprano
Argirio, Amenaide’s father, battling the Saracens, is a tenor
Orbazzano, also fighting the Saracens, but a rival of Argirio, is a bass
Isaura, Amenaide’s friend, is a contralto
Roggiero, Tancredi’s squire/servant is a mezzo-soprano or tenor
The Chorus plays soldiers, servants, nobles, ladies-in-waiting at various points in the opera
libretto by Gaetano Rossi, score by Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868), based on the play Tancrède by Voltaire was first performed in 1813 in Venice.
Meaning ‘heroic’ opera, Opera Seria had its heyday in the 18th Century and offered a serious and often melodramatic contrast to the very popular comic opera buffa. Featuring castrati, who usually played a heroic male and the prima donna often singing in coloratura, the opera seria closed with an uplifting redemptive ending and the assembled cast rejoicing.
The opera is set in Syracuse (modern-day Sicily) at the beginning of the second century AD and is in two acts. There is some controversy surrounding the ending which Rossini changed almost immediately (from his optimistic ending to Voltaire’s more tragic version) for a production in Ferrara. Audiences didn’t like it and Rossini reverted to his Venice original. A simple and concise synopsis of the story, can be found here:
A very brief synopsis as well as links to interesting articles on ‘breeches roles’ and man useful terms can be found on the site of the World Heritage Encyclopedia.
The entire libretto is not available in English
Video and Other On-line Resources
The entire opera is available on YouTube but without subtitles:
The controversary surrounding subtitles
Resources in the library
The reference books in the theatre section of the library offer background information regarding opera as a genre.
Role of the Critic:
Issues: Credibility, favouritism, victimisation, celebrity status.
Can make or break a show – powerful figures in the arts world.
Previews (invited audience), Press-night, First night (on sale to the public)
Examples of reviewing styles:
Michael Billington writes for the Guardian (UK broadsheet daily newspaper). Here is an example of his work:
An example of a review of an Opera Boston production of Tancredi in 2009:
Aspects of the performance to consider reviewing:
The plot of the story
Tragic Love as a theme
Immediate impact – how if looks and sounds
Interpretation for a contemporary audience
Artistic vision – directing
Text issues – importance of language, interpretation of text
Singers in role – the voice or the character
Chorus and Orchestra – supporting structures
Audience – profiling in terms of age, appreciation etc
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