serkanbaycar - The Role of Vocal Performers In Eighteenth...

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The Role of Vocal Performers In Eighteenth Century Music The British source of information Encyclopedia Britannica dates the emergence of castrato back to 16th century, when the appearance of women was banned on stage; but also notes that the real prominence of them would come at a later time, 18th century with the arrival of such great castratos like Farinelli. During the period when Baroque and the Classical music was the predominant forms of musical expression in Europe, opera was the main genre. And with the rise of opera, there was a need for more performers and singers, both men and women. A well-trained soprano or mezzo-soprano was demanded by many solo-vocal music. As I already mentioned, for two centuries, the appearance of women performers on Papal stages throughout Europe was banned. Women were also competing with castrato singers during that time. However, these can be considered as “minor setbacks” according to Barbara Jackson, who wrote that women opera singers flourished on European stage despite all setbacks. (Jackson, 2001) It is obvious, however, that to make them understand the place of both men and women in music, we should provide the reader with a brief history of western music in connection with the place of performer in music. Studying the transformations took place towards 18th century which brought performer and singer more to the center of music is our first and main task here. For this, we should go as far back as 17th century but focus mainly on the 18th century opera. Why did castrati and other solo voices gained such importance? The answer has to do with the changing structures in composition. New genres like opera, oratario and cantata were featuring solo voices more often than its predecessors which were rather polyphonic. The emphasis on the solo voice called for a profession that did not exist before (Roselli,1995). Britannica defines opera as “Musical drama made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment, overtures and interludes.” Opera is briefly defined as drama in music by Grout and Williams. Same authors argue that the relationship between drama and music has always been present throughout the world. On different levels, there are always artistic productions that can be considered some version of opera, starting as early as the ancient greek drama. According to them, this is perhaps due to the desire to add music to drama is really part of the dramatic instinct itself (Grout and Williams, 2003). Moving towards what we are really interested in, the invention of opera is dated at the end of 16th century. Britannica spots Florence as the birth place of oera, where the school of Camerata, a group of musicians, poets and scholars, was attempting to revive the Greek drama. To understand the effect of ancient Greek on the birth of opera, one should look at how imitations of pastoral Greek poems became the archetypes of libretti. The oldest surviving opera today is Peri’s Euridice from 1600, which was a vocal melody accompanied by light music. Claudio
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This note was uploaded on 12/30/2009 for the course ORG 301 taught by Professor Duygu during the Spring '09 term at Sabancı University.

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serkanbaycar - The Role of Vocal Performers In Eighteenth...

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