1) a novel by Ann Patchett which I returned to the library late and unfinished. Can someone tell me how it ends, please?
2) “Beautiful song,” in Italian. Bel Canto is a style of singing that is more lyrical than dramatic or emotional.
A term is used in vocal music to denote passages highly ornamented with runs and figures.
Castrati (plural)/Castrata (singular)
A man who has been, ahem, altered, so that his voice won’t change at puberty. I hope you are sitting. Opera is a sordid affair. In general, no one can sing that high except for women and prepubescent boys. And we should all be grateful for that. Especially the prepubescent boys. Roles that were originally written for castrati are now sung by mezzo-sopranos.
alt. def: the inspiration for our awesome t-shirts
A courtesan is a species of escort. The good ones get penthouse suites and a fat allowance to spend on entertaining and making themselves even more courtesany. Back in the day, they were expected to be conversant on such topics as politics, literature, history and the S&P 500. They were also expected to sleep with their benefactors. Duh. Except for that “conversant” bit, I think The Girls Next Door are examples of modern day courtesans.
Operas with courtesans include La Rondine, Thais, La Traviata and Madama Butterfly if you count geishas.
Literally translated: “little book.” It’s the script, or lyrics, of the opera. When people talk about an opera by, say, Mozart, they’re just talking about the music. The composer gets all the credit when it comes to opera. Or at least most of it. Very few composers also wrote the words – a notable exception being Wagner. A person who writes a libretto is a librettist. In many cases, we are grateful that the librettist does not write in a language we readily understand.
A jingle that identifies a certain person, place or concept. Play Ride of the Valkyries and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Or Darth Vader’s Imperial March. Or the “duh-dun” of Jaws.
There are the arias and the duets and the choruses and whatnot, and then there are the parts that just move the story along. Those parts are recitatives. If operas were musicals (heaven forfend), recitatives would be the parts where the actors are just talking.