A brief history of Opera

27 07 2008

歌劇史綱

Version en:

Opera started in Italy at the end of the 16th century (Jacopo Peri‘s lost Dafne, produced in Florence about 1597) and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Schütz in Germany, Lully in France, and Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. However, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, except France, attracting foreign composers such as Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his “reform" operas in the 1760s. Today the most renowned figure of late 18th century opera is Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition.

The first third of the 19th century saw the highpoint of the bel canto style, with Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini all creating works that are still performed today. It also saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Meyerbeer. The mid to late 19th century is considered by some a golden age of opera, led by Wagner in Germany and Verdi in Italy. This ‘golden age’ developed through the verismo era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Puccini and Strauss in the early 20th century. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Bohemia. The 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism (Schoenberg and Berg), Neo-Classicism (Stravinsky), and Minimalism (Philip Glass and John Adams). With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso became known to audiences beyond the circle of opera fans. Operas were also performed on, (and written for) radio and television.

Version zh:

歌劇最早出現在16世紀的義大利,既而傳播到歐洲各國,而德國的海因里希·許茨、法國的让-巴普蒂斯特·吕利和英格蘭的亨利·珀賽爾分別在他們自己的國家,開創了17世紀歌劇的先河。一直到18世紀,義大利歌劇依然是歐洲的主流,縱然巴黎吸引了不少外國作曲家到法國謀生,韓德爾也最終落腳英倫。

而義大利歌劇的主流一直是正歌劇,直至格魯克在1760年代推出的「革新歌劇」,以對抗正歌劇的矯揉造作。而今天依然著名的18世紀歌劇巨匠,顯然是莫札特。莫札特少年時先以正歌劇起家,既而以意大利語喜歌劇,風行各地,尤以《費加羅的婚禮》、《唐·喬望尼》和《女人皆如此》為人稱頌。而莫氏最後一部歌劇《魔笛》,更是德語歌劇的指標性作品。

19世紀初期是美聲(bel canto)風格歌劇的高峰期,風行當時的羅西尼多尼采蒂貝利尼等人的歌劇,時至今日,依然常見於舞台。與此同時,賈科莫·梅耶貝尔的歌劇作品則成為了法式大歌劇(Grand Opera)的典範,並風行全法。

而19世紀中後葉則被譽為歌劇的「黃金時期」,其中理查德·瓦格纳朱塞佩·威尔第在德國和義大利各領風騷。而黃金時期過後的20世紀初,西歐歌劇繼續演變出不同風格,如義大利的寫實主義 (verismo)和法國的當代歌劇,和及後贾科莫·普契尼理查德·施特劳斯的作品。而在整個19世紀,在中東歐地區,尤其是俄羅斯和波希米亞,國民樂派的崛起造就了當地和西歐平行發展的歌劇作品。

整個20世紀,現代風格元素常被嘗試混入歌劇當中,如阿诺德·勋伯格阿尔班·贝尔格的無調性手法和十二音階作曲法,以伊戈尔·斯特拉文斯基為代表的新古典主義音樂和菲利浦·格拉斯約翰·亞當斯簡約音樂。隨著錄音技術的改善,像恩里科·卡鲁索等歌手成為歌劇圈外人士所知的名字。隨著20世紀科技的進步,歌劇也會在電台和電視上播放,也出現了為廣播媒體而寫的歌劇。


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