Baroque Opera Development and Cultural Values and Characteristics of Baroque Music

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“Derived from the Portuguese barroco, or “oddly shaped pearl,” the term “baroque” has been widely used since the nineteenth century to describe the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to 1750” - Following the Renaissance, the baroque period was known for its expressivity of boldness, extravagance, overall balance, and use of heavy use of ornamentation. These features can be seen in everything from the clothing styles, to the architecture, and in particular the arts.

The baroque period is generally divided into 2 timeframes, the early baroque period (1600-1680) and the late baroque period (1680-1750). In terms of music, the early baroque period notes a new interest in the use of monody. Monody is the use of one voice or instrument, typically accompanied by basso continuo. The Renaissance period is known for its use of polyphony. In the late baroque period, concerto grosso became the more popular style written. Concerto grosso shows two groups of instruments or voices in contrast to each other singing or playing lines back and forth, thus introducing the first melody and harmony performances. The key instrumental form of the late Baroque period was the concerto grosso, which reflected the contrast between two groups of instruments. The two groups either alternated with one another or play together. A majority of the baroque music composed was for the church, royalty, and the social elite. This may have clouded the composer’s true vision for their music, as their works were dictated by the payer’s taste.

“The greatest legacy by the late Baroque period was the creation of operas and oratorios, considered greatest and most magnificent is Handel's Messiah, and J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion” - An opera is a story that is performed by singing. The plot is expressed by speech-like songs called recitatives and arias which are more indicative of the mood or feeling at that particular...
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