To sing opera the TENOR is in a relaxed position, with his head raised, his chest pushed forward and his mouth closed. After the orchestra has played a short introduction, he begins to sing a popular aria. The tones seem to flow effortlessly, while the voice seems to come from somewhere outside the singer’s body. At the end of the Ari, thunderous applause erupts.
Opera is a theatrical performance performed by singing actors and accompanied by orchestral music. Would you like to sing opera? Do you love opera? Have you ever had the opportunity to attend a performance in an opera house? Do you know what it takes to sing opera?
How to sing opera: The voice – a musical instrument
The voice is a unique gift from God, and it has rightly been referred to as a musical instrument. Although there are few who have such a voice as an opera singer, many consider singing as an equally natural part of life as eating or sleeping. Whether you are good at singing or not, you probably want to learn more about how this “instrument” works.
The larynx, which is located in the middle of the throat, is the organ that produces sound. It consists of a shell of cartilage that surrounds a cavity where there are two small muscle folds – the vocal cords. How is sound produced? With regular breathing, the vocal cords are relaxed and form a triangular opening in the trachea, known as the vocal cleft. As you sing, more air is squeezed through the larynx, the vocal cords narrow, and the vocal cords vibrate to produce sound. The more you tighten the vocal cords, the faster they vibrate, and the brighter the pitch. On the other hand, if you reduce the air pressure and relax in the vocal cords, the vocal crease becomes larger, so that the vocal cords vibrate more slowly and the pitch becomes deeper.
How to sing opera: Technique and physics
As a young man, Enrico Caruso had an excellent voice, but it lacked power. Through training he gained greater vocal strength. A beautiful voice is an innate gift, but for an opera singer, technique is also important. The singer must learn how to breathe to get enough air. Then he has to learn how to control the air supply. It is said that the famous 18th century singer Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli, could sing 150 notes in one breath.
Opera singers must also learn how to amplify the voice by using the body as a resonant box. Some experts say that it is the bones of the chest that perform this function when singing deep tones, while it is the jawbone and cavities of the facial bones that provide resonance when singing high tones.
Many people believe that song technique is something that has nothing to do with the neck. But it has been rightly said that the whole body sings. The singer has to find the right balance in coordinating muscle tension in all parts of the body. Singing opera thus requires a considerable degree of physical expression, which is perhaps why some opera singers are heavily built. Maria Callas was one of the most famous of all opera singers in the 20th century, but many believe that her rapid weight loss as a result of a drastic diet helped her voice to lose weight.
The development of opera art
Over time, the style and technique of opera singers have undergone changes. Let’s take just two examples. To begin with, the operas were erected in chapels or other small rooms where one could sing softly, sensitively and effortlessly. When it later became common to perform operas in large opera houses, the singers had to increase their vocal strength by using the body as a resonance box. Something that also contributed to this development was that the relatively modest orchestras used by Mozart were replaced by the much larger orchestras used by Verdi and Wagner, for example. In the 1600s, 1700s and part of the 19th century, opera music was entirely subordinate to the virtuosity, the technical prowess of the singer. The style that characterized the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century was completely different.
The possibilities of opera art have provided inspiration for extensive musical production. Composers such as Paisiello, Cimarosa, Gluck, Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, Meyerbeer and Mascagni, to name some of the most famous, have written unforgettable works that evoke deep emotions.
Extreme trends in the name of music
There have also been dark chapters in the history of opera art. Think of the castrates, which for over a hundred years dominated Italian opera. * Young boys were castrated before puberty to keep their bright voices of particularly large scale. Author Guido Tartoni says that “it was the Catholic Church,. . . which banned women. . . to sing in the chapels, ”which was due to this custom.
Famous opera singers have become stars, and they have almost been worshiped by some of their admirers. Luciano Pavarotti’s funeral was an example of such worship. Maria Callas was called La Divina (The Divine), and Joan Sutherland has been called La Stupenda (The Fabulous). When opera art has gained so much popularity, it is due to its ability to excite its audience.
One day you might hear a soprano sing a famous aria. Then stop and think about the practice and discipline behind the beautiful voice. It can make you see the art of opera in the same way as the writer who expressed it: “Singing means adding words to music and equipping poetry. . . with a melody’s wings”.
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