Learn Your Opera

by Brendan Byrne

Aug 5, 2016

Manaus Opera House, Brazil © Hel080808 | Dreamstime

Tips / Other

Once in a while in your life, you might be invited along to the formal event that is an opera performance. It’s daunting. You know nothing about opera. You probably don’t even like it. You’d much rather see your favorite band rock out at Madison Square Garden or something on the other side of the scale.


Fear not. You needn’t make a complete fool of yourself by stumbling along to the opera house and not knowing what to say at one of the three intervals whilst you rub shoulders. You’ll survive with these tips.


For the first half of the 19th century, Italy was the hub of opera. This is when opera was cool and at the heart of all culture. Rossini’s La Cenerentola (1817) was the “Come Together” of its time. It built on the classical music of Mozart and drew in singers, who took to the fore. Bellini is another name to drop into conversation. He was another star of this period.


Later on you had Verdi and the magnificent Rigoletto (1851). Verdi originated from the ‘el bel canto’ scene with Wagner, another heavyweight on the opera scene. They added another layer of drama and pathos to their predecessors. So if you focus and find the music to be rather dramatic, say something like “I really loved the Verdi-esque emotion that was evoked in that section of the performance.”



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