What to Listen For in Opera

An Introductory Handbook


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About the Book

Covering famous operas from 14 Italian, French and German composers, this handbook is designed to help listeners understand and appreciate the special skills required to sing famous operatic songs. The book includes a plot synopsis of each opera with information about each song, which are introduced in their dramatic settings along with the vocal requirements for the most demanding passages. Interactive literary and rhyming exercises help the reader become more engaged and knowledgeable. Foreign language passages are translated into English and key words are highlighted in each language.
The operatic vocabulary is defined to help the listener better understand the technical demands for a highly trained voice. The book is designed as a useful handbook for both experienced and beginning opera listeners. Appendices provide information on singers, recordings and useful references.

About the Author(s)

Professor emeritus Charles R. Beck has written many journal articles on music, science, technology, language arts, and social studies. He has conducted many opera workshops and lectures and lives in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Charles R. Beck
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 15 illustrations, glossary, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9609-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1714-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Part I. A Selection of Operas 3
Italian Operas
Aida by Giuseppe Verdi 5
Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini 14
La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini 23
L’Elisir d’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti 31
Norma by Vincenzo Bellini 40
I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo 49
French Operas
Carmen by Georges Bizet 57
Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach 67
Faust by Charles Gounod 76
Manon by Jules Massenet 85
German Operas
Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven 95
Der Fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner 104
Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber 113
Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 122
Part II. Arias by Composer 131
Verdi Arias
“Celeste Aida” from Aida 133
“Ritorna vincitor!” from Aida 134
“O patria mia” from Aida 136
“Caro nome” from Rigoletto 137
“La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto 138
“Ah, fors’è lui” from La Traviata 139
“Di Provenza il mar, il suol” from La Traviata 141
“Il balen del suo sorriso” from Il Trovatore 142
“D’amor sull’ali rosee” from Il Trovatore 143
Rossini Arias
“Largo al factotum della città!” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia 145
“Una voce poco fa” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia 146
“La calunnia è un venticello” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia 147
Puccini Arias
“Che gelida manina!” from La Bohème 149
“Mi chiamano Mimì” from La Bohème 150
“Quando me’n vo soletta” from La Bohème 151
“Recondita armonia” from Tosca 153
“Vissi d’arte” from Tosca 154
“Oh! mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi 155
“Un bel dì vedremo” from Madama Butterfly 156
“Nessun dorma” from Turandot 157
Donizetti Arias
“Una furtiva lagrima” from L’Elisir d’Amore 159
“Quel guardo il cavaliere” from Don Pasquale 160
Bellini Arias
“Casta Diva” from Norma 162
“Ah! non credea mirarti” from La Sonnambula 163
Leoncavallo Arias
“Il Pròlogo: Si può?” from I Pagliacci 165
“Qual fiamma avea nel guardo! … Hui! Stridono lassù” from I Pagliacci 166
“Recitar! Vesti la giubba” from I Pagliacci 168
Bizet Arias
“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” from Carmen 170
“Près des remparts de Séville” from Carmen 171
“Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” from Carmen 172
“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Carmen 174
Gounod Arias
“Avant de quitter ces lieux” from Faust 176
“Salut demeure chaste et pure” from Faust 177
“Ah! Je ris de me voir” from Faust 178
“Vous qui faites l’endormie” from Faust 180
“Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette 181
“Ah! Lève-toi, soleil” from Roméo et Juliette 182
Massenet Arias
“Adieu, notre petite table” from Manon 184
“En fermant les yeux” from Manon 185
“Je marche sur tous les chemins” and Gavotte from Manon 186
“Ah! fuyez, douce image” from Manon 188
Offenbach Arias
“Les oiseaux dans la charmille” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann 190
“Scintille, diamant” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann 191
“O Dieu, de quelle ivresse” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann 192
“Elle a fui, la tourterelle!” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann 194
Beethoven Arias
“Abscheulicher! … Komm, Hoffnung” from Fidelio 196
“In des Lebens Fruhlingstagen” from Fidelio 198
Wagner Arias
“Die Frist ist um” from Der Fliegende Holländer 199
“Johohoe! Traft ihr das Schiff im Meere” from Der Fliegende Holländer 200
“Einsam in trüben Tagen” from Lohengrin 202
“In fernem Land” from Lohengrin 203
“Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen Schein” from Die Meistersinger 204
“Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser 205
Weber Arias
“Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen” from Der Freischütz 207
“Leise, leise, fromme Weise” from Der Freischütz 208
“Und ob die Wolke sie verhülle” from Der Freischütz 210
Mozart Arias
“Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” from Die Zauberflöte 212
“O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn!” from Die Zauberflöte 213
“Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden” from Die Zauberflöte 215
“Voi, che sapete” from Le Nozze di Figaro 216
“Dove sono i bei momenti” from Le Nozze di Figaro 217
“O wie ängstlich” from Die Entführung aus dem Serail 218
Part III. Literary and Rhyming Exercises
Match the Aria to Its Literary Source 223
Il Barbiere di Siviglia 223
La Bohème 226
Carmen 228
Les Contes d’Hoffmann 230
Faust 232
Manon 234
Answer Key to Matching Exercises 237
Complete the Rhyming Passage 239
Aida 240
Il Barbiere di Siviglia 240
La Bohème 241
L’Elisir d’Amore 242
Norma 243
I Pagliacci 244
Answer Key to Complete the Italian Rhyming Passages 245
Carmen 247
Les Contes d’Hoffmann 248
Faust 249
Manon 250
Answer Key to Complete the French Rhyming Passages 251
Fidelio 253
Der Fliegende Holländer 254
Der Freischütz 255
Die Zauberflöte 256
Answer Key to Complete the German Rhyming Passages 257
Glossary of Operatic Terms 259
Appendix A. A Comparison of Unrhymed and Rhymed Translations 262
Appendix B. Vocal Profiles of 25 Exemplary Opera Singers 265
Appendix C. Recommended Recordings 269
Annotated Bibliography 273
Index 277

Book Reviews & Awards

“This is a terrific resource for anyone wishing to know more about opera”—ARBA.