Opera during the Romantic period had a plot that focused more on relationships at a personal level and emotions that the audience could relate to rather than setting ancient mythology and folk stories to music. The music was also becoming more of a major factor in the opera’s success instead of just the production value.
The innovator of this “new” type of opera was Gioachino Rossini. He introduced the style of opera that we now know as bel canto, or “beautiful singing”. This style is named this because of the way that Rossini wrote his vocal parts. The singer would have to be trained and his or her technique would have to be close to perfect. This made the voice the most important piece of the opera rather than the plot or the set like it had been in previous years. Rossini would write for a small orchestra to just accompany and support the singers instead of competing with them, nor would he write virtuosic instrumental passages because that was written for the singers.
The scenes in these bel canto operas were much different than that of baroque and classical operas. Earlier operas would tell a story by singing recitative and then breaking into an aria that was not acted out, so the scene had minimal potential for mood change. But, Rossini developed a new way to tell the story. He would throw in a mixture of elements that could easily change the mood of the scene, such as: accompanied recitative, arias, duets, and choruses, working together to drive the plot forward with the ability to portray the right mood setting. The arias in these bel canto operas are usually split into three different sections, the: cantabile, cabaletta, and tempo di mezzo. The aria starts off with the cantabile, expressing some kind of calm mood, then is stopped by the tempo di mezzo, usually another character or chorus interrupts to change the mood of the performer. Finally the cabaletta, this is most notably the last part of the... [continues]
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