La Traviata, Aida, Norma are just a few of the most famous Opera titles. However, while listening to them, have you ever thought about when and who invented Opera? Who ideated the majestic conjunction between orchestral music and voice? The answer can be found in Italy, more precisely in the XVI century, during Renaissance. Opera music was born as slow, powerful music in which actors perform in combination with an orchestra, recalling the great ancient Greek dramas.
Dafne (1597) by Jacopo Peri, is considered the first opera in this story. The composer was part of the Florence group Florentine Camerata. However, the real creator of this genre is Claudio Monteverdi who brought the Opera into the courts of high social class in order to let members enjoy it and inspire the deepest feelings from the audience.
Opera has changed during various historical periods, both in structure and themes. During the Baroque era, Opera found the most elaborate period of all time, and Georg Frideric Handel was among the greatest composers of the era. Male singers of this period, known as “castrati”, were castrated to keep their young treble and soprano voices, and not all survived the brutality. Then came the Classical period following the enlightenment, with its rational feelings, and more essential composition and themes.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the best and last of the classical period and with his opera Le Nozze di Figaro he opened the Romantic irreverent period which saw artists such as Gioacchino Rossini, Bizet, and then Verdi with his Aida, il Trovatore, Rigoletto and his most famous opera La Traviata. The 19th century also saw another author spreading new composition rules, Wagner, who introduced leitmotivs and the expansion of the orchestra. Then the 20th century, which if in literature the Verga’s realism and verism dominated the scene, in music Giacomo Puccini and his operas like Boheme and Madama Butterfly made history.
It can be said that Opera music, like all other literature and music genres, followed precisely the historical period of the time and expressed many different ideas through the use of varying arrangements and rules. It is still a crucial part of European traditional music today and the famous masterpieces still gather people from all over the world to appreciate the art, uniting Opera lovers from everywhere under the same roof.