Sunday, May 28, 2017

Opera is Art of the Voice

Opera is vocal music.  Singing creates a drama in the opera; the drama it creates should come from singing.  All too often, in modern productions, opera has been made into a sight-and-sound spectacle with singing submerged in the visual fanfare; the set, costume, and lighting, which should support the singing, too often take precedence rather than a subsidiary place.  Little wonder I experience a special excitement when I attend an opera in concert presentation; with no stage set and minimal costume and physical action, it is so much more fulfilling than a fully-staged performance, precisely because the voice with instrumental accompaniment carries the drama.  A good libretto rendered into an expressive musical composition and sung beautifully is what we get.  In some operatic works, notably in Wagner’s music dramas, symphonic music takes precedence to which voices are one additional set of instrument.  All these points were powerfully demonstrated in the recent performance I attended at Carnegie of Handel’s Ariodante featuring the English Concert and Joyce DiDonato in the title role.  It was opera par excellence superbly realized. 


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