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What is opera? (with reference to Moses and Aron by Schoenberg).
Pages 5 (1255 words)
The term “opera” derives from the Italian word for “work” and has come to mean a large scale and extravagant creation, or a work of art which involves music, high drama and expensive costumes, delivered in sumptuous surroundings to a well-educated and wealthy audience.
Snowman defines it in passing as “an art form that aspires to combine all the others”1 and goes on to chart the history of opera as a pastime of the elite which started in the Renaissance, reached its peak in the nineteenth century and began to decline in the twentieth century. This paper looks at the nature and purpose of opera in the twentieth century with specific reference to the unfinished masterpiece Moses and Aron which was written by classical composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) between 1930 and 1932. In the mediaeval period most people encountered formal music principally in religious settings but after the great turbulence of the Reformation, there came a time of gradual extension of musical performance into the salons of high society. Wealthy patrons of the Renaissance commissioned music to be written for special occasions such as weddings and coronations. In France the ballet form emerged, and in Italy genres such as the pastorale became popular: “The attraction of the pastorale consisted therefore, not in the plot but in the scenes and moods, the sensuous charm of the language, and the delicately voluptuous imagery, at which the Italian Renaissance poets excelled.” ...
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