36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 296: Opera’s expression


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 296 — Opera’s expression
24-May-1972 (Mittwoch–Wed.)


Did even less today. Becoming lazy. Piano goes good. Horn…

Capriccio. It seems that dialogue in an opera is so sporadic and ever-changing that nothing (except the words) are communicated. However, during an orchestral passage and a long solo aria, the words don’t matter because the music speaks for itself.


Opera’s dialog. I hit on this idea a few days ago. Again, to summarize, I believe that I am sitting through some of Richard Strauss’ operas and when there is operatic dialog, let’s call it recitative-like singing—passages that function as conversation—the music is not as emotional as when you are listening to long arias backed up by an emotive orchestra. It is the nature of those conversational passages. Of course, these are not recitatives, but I liken them to vocal singing telling the story. What I need to remember is that opera is a form of visual entertainment, like theater, where people are following a storyline. They follow the opera in their native language (German, I’m not following so well), and they understand the dialog and the story. The intent here is the message (words, action, plot) and not the music.

I am more moved by the melodic and song-like character of arias that function as the “songs” in the opera, and not as much by the dialog.


Capriccio on Wikipedia


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