Young singers getting to grips with early-17th-century Italian style
2022-06-30

Opera in the early 17th century isn't exactly like the standard pieces known to audiences from the 18th to early 20th centuries, where the soprano sings a lengthy aria hitting top C while ostensibly suffocating in a tomb or dying (usually) of consumption! Instead, the singers are actors first, reciting their lines to music that closely follows the contours of spoken word, a type of musically heightened speech called the stile recitativo. This style of delivery is contrasted with short songs, choruses, and instrumental ritornelli. The recitative style isn't really technically difficult, but it does require a different way of approaching the score than modern singing students are used to! First, it's important to know the exact meaning of what you're saying. You practise saying your lines in rhythm, and that starts to give you an idea of how Francesca Caccini thinks they should be delivered. After speaking them in rhythm with a basso continuo accompaniment (more on that later!), you can add the contours, the highs and lows, and out of that, the actual notes grow quite organically! Then, you think about the context, the conversation that you're having with other characters, and the meaning you are trying to get across, and the physical gestures that might accompany this. Every word and phrase has its own precise colour, subtly placed there by the composer. It's a challenge to learn, but once you have the idea, you can transfer that knowledge into so many other styles, from folk music, to art song, to contemporary opera and musical theatre.

Published by Music, University of Aberdeen

Categories

Search Blog

Browse by Month

2022

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2022
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2022
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2022
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2022
  5. May There are no items to show for May 2022
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2022
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2022
  10. Oct There are no items to show for October 2022
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2022
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2022

2021

  1. Jan There are no items to show for January 2021
  2. Feb There are no items to show for February 2021
  3. Mar There are no items to show for March 2021
  4. Apr There are no items to show for April 2021
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul There are no items to show for July 2021
  8. Aug There are no items to show for August 2021
  9. Sep There are no items to show for September 2021
  10. Oct There are no items to show for October 2021
  11. Nov There are no items to show for November 2021
  12. Dec There are no items to show for December 2021