The Deadly World of Opera - Aria

Monday, 12 August, 2019
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Delve inside the Deadly World of Opera

Opera is hard…opera is strange…opera sounds funny, it’s not for me…or is it?

If you love a good story, and let’s face it who doesn’t, then opera is almost certainly for you.

After all, opera is just another form of storytelling. Opera is deadly, because it uses a combination of music and acting to tell timeless stories, so not only can the words guide our feelings, but the music too plays a key role in telling us if the story is happy or sad, scary or funny, complex or simple. Operas tell stories about everything from princesses to paupers, mad men to ordinary everyday people like you and me. They can be set in palaces, hotels, mythical lands, nightclubs…even airports! Anything you can imagine an opera can be.

So, let’s get technical and get to the bottom of some of the ways in which opera tells us these great stories. Opera uses music and song instead of spoken word with the story strung together in a series of arias and recitative. Aria? Recitative? If these words seem strange to you read on and learn more about this deadly world we call opera.

What is an aria?

An aria is a song sung by one of the characters during an opera. It is used as an opportunity to communicate the emotions that the character is feeling and usually focusses on helping us get to know the character and their place in the story rather than communicating any major plot development.

Have a listen to the text of the aria Ach ich fühl’s, delivered by Rachel Croash in German. How does it make you feel?

Here’s that same aria sung by Golda Schultz at the Metroploitan Opera, New York. Notice how the music brings to life the emotion of the text.

Curious for more? Explore below to learn about recitative.