The Baroque Era
El-Fatih J. Ajala
The Genres of the Baroque Period:
Opera – “drama presented in music, with the characters singing instead of speaking” (Joseph Kerman, p. 87): One cannot speak of Baroque opera without mentioning the name of Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Monteverdi has the distinction of being known as the first great composer in the genre of opera, as well as the last true madrigalist of his time. He began writing his madrigals at a very early age and composed operas well into his seventies.
Although much of his music has not survived to this day, one very important masterpiece did; The Coronation of Poppea.
This opera is done in recitative style as well as aria. Recitative is when the characters half sing, half recite the words presented in an opera while being very careful to follow accents and rhythms of true speech closely. Aria is part in an opera which is penned for soloist and orchestra. The recitative is used to demonstrate plot action, dialogue, and other dramatic situations within an opera. Arias are used in an opera when elaboration of a piece is needed.
The soloist can be more melodic, more consistent with the rhythm, clearer and better understood by the audience, and is usually accompanied by all of the orchestra. It gives the soloist great use of word-painting. This is a very notable Italian opera by Monteverdi as it is relating the adulterous liaison of Poppea and Nero which triumphs, although history records that the victory was hollow. It is also very notable because of its exquisite use of recitative and arias to tell the story. This is a great piece of secular composition for the era.
Concerto – One of the “most important orchestral genres of sacred music during the Baroque era” (Joseph Kerman, p. 120) (the other being concerto grosso). Concerto is the contrasting of the orchestra and soloist. This contrast pits the power (along with the stability) of the orchestra against...
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