Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
An opera is a drama set to music. It is performed and sung by singers who act out different roles. Opera is often staged in a grand opera house or theater with lavish costumes and magnificent stage designs. The songs are full of passion and emotion. Opera began in Europe during the Renaissance.
Opera is technically difficult and takes years of training. The female range covers soprano (high pitch), mezzo-soprano (middle), and contralto (low). The male voice covers tenor (high), baritone (middle), and bass (low).
An opera opens with an overture (an instrumental piece of music). The songs sung by the soloists are arias (Italian for “air”). Recitatives are speechlike passages between arias that move the plot along. A long opera may be broken into several acts.