Corinna K. 10-1-12

Monday’s class was all about opera.  This seemed appropriate considering that in a couple of days we’d be going to see what, for most of us, was our first opera.  Something that professor Kahan had said that I found to be particularly interesting was that opera singers were like athletes.  I listened to the explanation about how both need to practice a lot and take care of themselves in order to keep up and perform well, and being an athlete myself, I instantly understood and began to have more admiration and respect for opera singers. Another thing about opera that I found interesting was its history.  The fact that women were once not allowed to be on stage and some men had to make the sacrifice/decision to take their roles seems ludicrous.

As the class progressed, we took an even closer look at opera.  First, we discussed how all of Mozart’s works have a consistent theme of overcoming depression, which was actually news to me.  Then, we looked at the structure of opera.  We discussed how at certain times, the plot would simply get moved along and notes would be used mainly to get the speech out.  On the other hand, there is an aria, which is the main part of music.  It is when the singer expresses an emotion or thought.  It is usually sung twice and the second time with improvisation in order to show off the singer’s voice.   Women’s voice types were also a major part of our discussion on Monday.  There is mezzo soprano, dramatic soprano, lyric soprano, spinto soprano, and light lyric soprano, just to name a few.

To truly understand the different styles and components of opera, we listened to a few examples. Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti was so touching and the talent that the vocalist had was incredible.  Madamina was also an enjoyable performance, but for a different reason.  It was a comedy about rape, which shows what was expected of men with power, sexually.