November 30, 2021

An opera (occidental) is a musical and theatrical work for an orchestra and singers, built on a libretto which features characters and their history, where the roles are sung. Opera is one of the lyrical art forms of Western musical theater. The work, sung by performers with a vocal register determined according to the role and accompanied by an orchestra, sometimes symphonic, sometimes chamber, sometimes intended only for the opera repertoire, consists of a libretto set to music in the form airs, recitatives, choirs, interludes often preceded by an overture and sometimes embellished with ballets. The musical genre is declined according to the countries and the times and covers works of different names and forms. Today, the works are performed in specifically designated opera houses or simply on theaters or in concert halls, or even in the open air. Performances are organized by public or private sector institutions, sometimes referred to as the “opera house”, which can bring together artists' companies (orchestra, choir and ballet) and the administrative and technical services necessary for the performance. organization of cultural seasons.

History of opera

According to Serge Dorny, director of the Opéra de Lyon, "in all there are 6000 operas in the repertoire, of which only 100 are performed regularly".


Western opera originated in Florence in Italy in the 17th century. Among the ancestors of opera are the Italian madrigals, who set to music situations with dialogues but without stage performance. Masquerades, court ballets, intermezzi, as well as other Renaissance court performances, involving extras, music and dance, are all precursors. The opera itself comes from a group of Florentine humanist musicians and intellectuals who called themselves Camerata ("salon" in Florentine). The Camerata, also called Camerata fiorentina or Camerata de 'Bardi, from the name of its main patron, had set itself two main objectives: to revive the musical style of the ancient Greek theater and to oppose the contrapuntal style of the music of the Renaissance. In particular, they wanted the composers to strive for the music to reflect, simply and word for word, the meaning of the texts, to enhance them and not make them incomprehensible by the complexity of the sound architectures of its accompaniment. The Camerata thought to take in this the characteristics of ancient Greek music. To achieve this goal, monody is used accompanied by basso continuo, madrigalesque choirs and ritornellos and instrumental dances. In 1598 in Mantua, Jacopo Peri wrote Dafne (en), which was then considered to be one of the first operas (at that time we spoke of dramma per musica). Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607) is also mentioned today.

Italian opera

17th century and 18th century

The first great operatic composer was Claudio Monteverdi. His operas (L'Orfeo, 1607; Ariane, 1608; Le Retour d'Ulysse dans sa patrie, 1640; Le Coronnement de Poppée, 1642) applied the foundations of opera, defined in Florence by Bardi's Camerata at the end 16th century, in reaction against the excesses of Renaissance polyphony. If Claudio Monteverdi is not the first composer to translate this program (the first opera, Dafne, being attributed to Jacopo Peri in 1598 by Count Bardi), it was he who brought the opera to a state of perfection which aroused the emulation of other musicians and the favor of the public. The opera spread quickly throughout Italy, but soon enough

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