Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday Italian: The Music

In another realm, the Italians revolutionized the world of music by inventing opera, a form of theater in which all of the lines are sung to music. Operas were especially well known for the grand scale of production, and for creating some of the most memorable musical pieces in history.

The stories are usually either comedies or tragedies. In a comedy, the ending is a happy one, sometimes ending with a wedding ceremony. In a tragedy, the opera end with most of the important characters dead. The story lines are often very dramatic and have many plot twists to keep the viewer interested for over two or three hours.

In an opera there are four main parts, assigned according to how high or low the singers' voices are. The four main roles are the bass and tenor for men, and the alto and soprano for women. The most famous tenor of modern times was Luciano Pavarotti. One of the most famous sopranos of all time was Maria Callas, who was the original "diva."

One of the best-known operas is The Barber of Seville (il barbiere di Siviglia), about a barber named Figaro who gets into people's business with some funny results. The opera was written by a famous composer, Gioachino Rossini around 1815. It includes the aria "Largo al Factotum," which has been used in cartoons for years, from Bugs Bunny to Woody Woodpecker (who even sang the words in Italian).

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