and The School District of Philadelphia
The School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission Sandra Dungee Glenn, Chairman Martin G. Bednarek, member James P. Gallagher, Ph.D, member Denise McGregor Armbrister, member
Sounds of Learningâ„˘ was established by a generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation. Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learningâ„˘ program has been provided by:
$20,000 to $49,999 Connelly Foundation
$5,000 to $9,999
Alpin J. & Alpin W. Cameron Memorial Trust
Hamilton Family Foundation Tom M. Brady Interim Chief Executive Officer
Cassandra W. Jones, Ed.D. Interim Chief Academic Officer
Lincoln Financial Foundation Presser Foundation
Dennis W. Creedon, Ed.D. Administrator, Office of Creative and Performing Arts
Opera Company of Philadelphia Robert B. Driver General and Artistic Director
Corrado Rovaris Music Director
David B. Devan Managing Director
Michael Bolton Director of Community Programs
The ARAMARK Charitable Fund at the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program
The Opera Company of Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Deluxe Corporation Foundation
Samuel S. Fels Fund Sheila Fortune Foundation Wachovia Foundation
Citizens Bank Foundation Ellis A. Gimbel Charitable Trust
$1,000 to $4,999
Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund
Louis N. Cassett Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation GlaxoSmithKline
Merck & Co., Inc.
Additional support is provided by the Independence Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.
$10,000 to $19,999
Hirsig Family Fund
The Opera Company of Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The William Penn Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Lenfest Foundation.
Bank of America Foundation
Morgan Stanley Foundation The Patricia Kind Family Foundation PNC Bank Foundation
A Family Guide to
Pennsylvania’s standards in education call for students to show what they know and are able to do and children need to share what they have discovered or learned. Thus, the title of our program is Sounds of Learning™. It reflects our belief that children must be actively engaged in sharing ideas. The Sounds of Learning™ workbook and teacher guide will integrate with local core literacy curriculum in many ways. Just as opera is a uniquely integrated art, combining orchestra, voice, literature, drama, and dance, Sounds of Learning™ is an interdisciplinary and student-centered program. The goal of the Active Learning sections is to have your children engaged in the process of self-teaching. They will be able to show how they have gained insights into their learning by drawing, writing, and discussing the issues most relevant to them. In this way, students demonstrate what they can do with what they know. We believe the family is the most important foundation to learning. Let your kitchen table become a classroom where your children can build their knowledge of opera and the humanities. As you join in the teaching and learning process with your children, watch their eyes sparkle. Opera is a communal celebration, so too should be your children’s education. In reading the libretto, we suggest that you and your family members take turns reading particular roles. Dr. Ellen Winner of Harvard’s Project Zero found that: “drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials;” helps students in “reading readiness and achievement;” and “oral and written language development.” (Journal of Aesthetic Education, v34, #3/4, Fall/Winter, 2000.) In preparing for the opera, we suggest you purchase one of EMI’s excellent audio or video recordings of this opera. We are grateful to EMI for offering us their libretti for use in our program. Together, we hope to build future audiences for, and performers of, the arts.
Goals and Objectives of the Sounds of Learning™ • Improve literacy rates by using the opera’s libretto to teach courses across the curriculum • Understand the plot, characters, and their motivations • Learn something about the composer, and others involved in writing the opera • Know something of the historic and social context of the story • Know some key musical elements, recognize certain melodies, differentiate between voices • Understand the role music plays by expressing emotions and heightening the dramatic experience • Understand the various elements of producing opera and the functions of those involved; e.g. conductor, director, set designer, technical crew, etc. • Develop the ability to make judgments about the opera, production, and performance • Relate incidents in the opera to those of the present day
Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Table of Soprano Christine Goerke stars in the title role of Belliniâ€™s Norma. Photo: Christian Steiner.
Please visit our webpage at
www.operaphila.org/community for more Norma information and downloads!
Contents Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera 4 6 8 9 10 11
A Brief History of Western Opera Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Broad Street: Avenue of the Arts Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame Opera Etiquette 101 Why I Like Opera
Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection 12 13 14 16 18 19
Who Were the Druids? The Druid’s Sacred Mistletoe The Celts of Old Gaul at the Time of Norma Rites and Rituals Italy’s Ancient Roman Foundation
Norma Libretto and Production Information 20 22 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
The Life of Vincenzo Bellini Events During Bellini’s Lifetime What is Bel Canto? Bellini’s Norma: Creating a Masterpiece Meet the Artists Introducing Soprano Christine Goerke Game: Connect the Opera Terms Norma Synopsis Norma LIBRETTO
50 52 54 57 58 62
So You Want to Sing Like an Opera Singer The Highs and Lows of the Operatic Voice Into the Pit: The Opera Orchestra The Art of Building Costumes and Character Careers in the Arts Game: Norma Crossword Puzzle
64 65 66 67 68 69 70 72 73 74 75
Norma Discussion Questions Sounds of Learning™ in the Classroom Conflicts and Loves in Norma Poetic Styles and Norma Norma Props and People Bellini’s Norma: Contemporary Literature Produce Your Own Opera! The Italian-English Connection Parli Italiano? 2007-2008 Season Subscriptions Invest in Grand Opera!
Careers in the Arts
Glossary State Standards State Standards Met
76 79 80
A Brief History of
Theatrical performances that use music, song and dance to tell a story can be found in many cultures. Opera is just one example of music drama. In its 400-year history each opera has been shaped by the times in which it was created and tells us much about those who participated in the art form as writers, composers, performers, and audience members. The first works to be called operas were created in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. They were inspired by a group of intellectuals known as the Camerata who, like many thinkers of their time in the late Renaissance, admired the culture of the ancient Greeks. They proposed the invention of a new type of musical theater that would imitate Greek drama’s use of music. The result was a series of operas based on Greek myths, starting with Dafne by Jacopo Peri in 1598. The most famous work of this early period is Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607), based on the myth of Orpheus. These early operas had all the basic elements that we associate with opera today, including songs, instrumental accompaniments, dance, costumes, and scenery.
These early operas were performed in the courts of noblemen in Italy, but soon opera became Claudio Monteverdi popular among the general public 1567-1643 as well. Europe at the time had a growing middle class with a taste for spectacular entertainment. As opera’s popularity grew, so did the complexity of operas and the level of spectacle. Many opera houses had elaborate machinery that could be used to create special effects such as flying actors and crumbling buildings. There was much debate about whether an excess of visual elements in opera detracted from the quality of the music and drama. Some people even worried that too much comedy in opera could lead to immorality among the public! During the period from about 1600 to 1750, the Baroque period in music, Italian opera spread across Europe. In fact the Italian style of opera was so popular that even though other countries and regions often had their own traditions of musical drama, the Italian form was usually preferred. George Frederick Handel was a German-born composer who lived and worked in England, but his operas such as Julius Caesar (1724) were in the Italian language and used an Italian style of music. The only nation to develop a national
A tense scene from Act II of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. (l-r: bass Richard Bernstein, baritone Simone Alberghini and sopranos Christine Brandes and Mary Dunleavy.)
Bass Kevin Glavin gets a close shave from baritone Roberto DeCandia in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
tradition to rival the Italian was France, where operas often included ballets inserted into the story. Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau are the most famous French Baroque opera composers. By the middle of the seventeenth century Europe was changing. The growing middle class was more influential than ever, and people were starting to talk about new forms of government and organization in society. Soon the American and French Revolutions (1776 and 1789) would seek to establish the first modern democracies. Music was changing, too. Composers abandoned the complicated music of the Baroque period and began to write music with simpler, more expressive melodies. In opera, this meant that composers could write melodies that would allow characters to express their thoughts and feelings more believably. One of the first operas to use this new style was Cristoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice (1762). With the new democratic sentiments came interest in operas about common people in familiar settings, rather than stories from ancient mythology. A good example is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786), in which a servant outsmarts a count. Several of Mozart’s operas remain among the most popular today. They include Figaro, Don Giovanni (1788), Così fan tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791). In the nineteenth century operas continued to grow more diverse in their subject matter, forms, and national styles. The Italian tradition continued in the bel canto movement. Operas written in this style, which means “beautiful singing”, included arias with intricate ornamentation, or combinations of fast notes, in the melodies. The most famous composers of bel canto are Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioacchino Rossini, whose The Barber of Seville (1816) is one of the most beloved comic operas.
Later in the century the Romantic Movement led many composers to take an interest their national identities. As a result, operas in languages other than Italian became more common, and new works often reflected pride in a country’s people, history and folklore. Among the operas that show the growth of national traditions are Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (Germany, 1821), Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmilla (Russia, 1842) and Georges Bizet’s Carmen (France, 1875). In Italy Giuseppe Verdi composed in a bold, direct style, and his operas often included elements of nationalism. In Germany Richard Wagner took the Romantic style to the extreme in an ambitious series of operas known collectively as The Ring of the Nibelung (1876) based on Norse mythology. In the twentieth century opera became even more diversified and experimental, to the point that it sometimes became difficult to distinguish it from other forms of musical theater. Some composers such as Giacomo Puccini (La bohème, 1896), Claude Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande, 1902), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905), and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) continued to write operas that were similar in many ways to those of the nineteenth century. Others, horrified by the destructive effects of World War I (1914-1919) and other aspects of modern life, created works with radically experimental and dissonant music. These operas often explored topics that were either disturbing (Wozzeck by Alban Berg, 1925) or absurdist (The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky, 1951). American opera also came into its own in this century, beginning with George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) which incorporated jazz and blues styles of music. In the latter part of the century a repetitive and hypnotic style known as minimalism was exemplified in Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (1976), a piece that would hardly be recognized as an opera by earlier standards. The late twentieth century even saw a return to some of the traits of Romantic opera in works such as John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (1991). Today, opera is a living art form in which both new works and those by composers of the past continue to be performed. It remains to be seen what the future of opera will be, but if history is any indication, it will be shaped by the creativity of librettists, composers and other artists responding the changing times in which they live.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756-1791
Academy of Music
Few Philadelphians know that the great Academy of Music was dedicated to the memory of Mozart. As the guests enter the Opera House’s main hall, there above the proscenium arch, over the Academy stage, a bas-relief of Mozart looks down upon the audience. This place of prominence for Mozart indicates that the builders of the Academy expected to attract the finest performing arts known to the world. However, building this Opera House was not an easy task for the young country. Between 1837 and 1852 there were five attempts to raise the funds needed to build an Opera House within the city limits of Philadelphia. After Commissioners were appointed by an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Charles Henry Fisher began to sell stock in the Academy of Music on May 24, 1852. On October 13, 1854, the land on the southwest corner of Broad and Locust Streets was purchased. At that time, the area was undeveloped. (The Old State House, now known as Independence Hall, was the heart of the city at that time.)
The Commissioners held a competition to select the design of the Academy. Fifteen architects submitted designs between October 3 and December 15 of 1854. The winners were announced on February 12, 1855. Gustav Rungé and Napoleon le Brun won the $400 prize. It was their idea to dedicate the Academy to Mozart’s memory. Within four months the ground-breaking took place. This project was so important that President Franklin Pierce, along with Governor James Pollock and Mayor Robert T. Conrad, laid the cornerstone on July 26, 1855. On January 26, 1857, the Academy held the Grand Ball and Promenade Concert of its opening. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. Gounod’s opera Faust had its American premiere here on November 18, 1863. On February 14, 1907, Madama Butterfly premiered to “emphatic success” with its composer, Giacomo Puccini, in attendance. On May 14, 1897, John Philip Sousa’s composition “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was premiered on the Academy stage. On March 29 and April 5, 1900, Fritz Scheel conducted two serious concerts of professional musicians. These two concerts are considered the genesis of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Today the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet call the Academy home. Numerous presidents have visited the Academy, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon. The Academy has had many world-famous performers on its stage: Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Anna Pavlova, George Gershwin, Arturo Toscanini, Marian Anderson, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, and thousands more.
A wood engraving from the Academy Proscenium Box in 1857. Historic images of the Academy courtesy of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
The Academy was made a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1963. Since then, a few changes have been made to the structure. In 1996 the “Twenty-First Century Project” began, which allowed for a new rigging system, replacement of the stage floor, and cleaning and restoration of the historic ceiling. With Mozart’s image looking down on the Academy’s audiences from his position above the stage for over one hundred years, let the joy of opera and dance continue forever.
Academy Facts ✒ Built in 1857, The Academy of Music is the oldest grand opera house in the United States used for its initial purpose.
✒ In 1963, The Academy was honored as a National Historic Landmark. As a National Historic Landmark, live flame can never be produced on the stage.
The auditorium seats 2,897; 14 columns support the Academy’s tiers; and the auditorium is encased within a three foot thick solid brick wall.
The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain simulates that of a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.”
The Academy of Music has an expandable orchestra pit to accommodate works with larger orchestral requirements. The first two rows of seats on the Parquet level are on a platform which can be removed to enlarge the pit. The decorative brass and wooden orchestra pit railing is then adjusted to ornament the expanded pit as well.
In the 1800’s, an artificial floor was placed over the Parquet level seats for balls, political conventions, gymnastic and ice skating expositions, carnivals, parades, and other events. You’ll see a wooden guide along the edge of the Parquet wall that helped support the floor.
The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889 between University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. At halftime, tug-of-war matches were held as entertainment.
A motion picture was first screened at the Academy on February 5, 1870. The silent movie consisted of an oratory, an acrobatic performance by a popular Japanese gymnast, and a waltz danced by the presenter, Henry H. Heyl and his sister. 1,600 people attended.
There were talks underway to turn the Academy of Music into a movie theater in 1920.
Starting in 1884, electricity was used to light the large chandelier (originally lit by 240 gas burners), the auditorium, and stage lights. New regenerative gas lights were placed along the exterior walls on both Broad and Locust streets.
✒ Incandescent electric lighting was introduced to the foyer and balcony in 1892. ✒
Air conditioning was installed in the theatre 1959.
There was no elevator for the general public in the Academy until 1990!
For more information on the Academy of Music, go to the library and take out Within These Walls, by John Francis Marion or go online to www.academyofmusic.org.
Avenue of the Arts Here is part of a map of Center City. This area, which includes Broad Street south of City Hall, is the home of many famous theaters, museums, hotels, restaurants and cultural centers. Here are some descriptions of the attractions around the Academy of Music. See if you can match them to the lettered flags on the map.
_____ The Kimmel Center Dance, orchestra, chamber and folk music
_____ Prince Music Theater Contemporary music, musicals and blues
_____ Merriam Theater Theater and broadway musicals
_____ University of the Arts Art and Design School
_____ Wilma Theater Modern theater and musicals
_____ Ritz Carlton Hotel World famous 5-star hotel and restaurant
1. The Academy of Music is marked on this map with a picture. What is its address? _______________________________________
2. How many blocks is it from City Hall to the Academy? _______________________________________
3. All but one of the East to West streets on this map have names that have something in common. What is it? _______________________________________ For more information about this exciting part of the city, visit www.avenueofthearts.org/visit.htm.
4. You and your friends are planning a night on the town. You will hear a lecture about famous artists, see the Broadway musical Wicked and scout celebrities at a fancy restaurant. Where do you go? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________
Walk of Fame As you walk down the Avenue of the Arts between Walnut and Spruce Streets, you will find over 100 bronze plaques adorning the sidewalk. Each plaque is imprinted with the name of a person of importance to Philadelphia’s musical world, from major influences in the classical music world, such as contralto Marian Anderson, to hip-hop successes like Will Smith. The Walk of Fame was started by The Philadelphia Music Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in 1986. The Alliance was established by music executives and local citizens who wanted to commemorate Philadelphia’s contribution to the world of music. Other programs offered by The Alliance include an instrument donation program in collaboration with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation as well as the Philadelphia International Airport Music Project and an annual piano competition. The Philadelphia Music Alliance has also worked alongside the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys), the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Trane Stop, the University of the Arts, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the City Representative’s Office on various projects. New members are always being inducted onto the Walk of Fame and the event is featured on local television. To be honored with a plaque on the Walk of Fame doesn’t mean one has to be born or raised in Philadelphia. Many of the honorees may not have been from here, but made a significant impact on the musical scene in Philadelphia. Honoree Eugene Ormandy, for example, was a Hungarian conductor and violinist who was the Philadelphia Orchestra’s music director and conductor for 44 years. There is also the example of Dick Clark, the New York born disc jockey who gained huge success with the nationally televised Philadelphia based teen dance show, American Bandstand, and as host of New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV. There are several walking tours in the city which feature this popular public attraction. The Walk of Fame is a celebration of Philadelphia’s musical contributions that everyone can enjoy. You may even learn about some of the city’s great musical personalities with whom you may not be familiar.
Philadelphia Walk of Fame Honorees Here are a few musicians honored on the Walk of Fame. Do you recognize any of these names? Marian Anderson – Contralto • Born in Philadelphia, attended South Philadelphia High School for Girls • First African-American to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera, singing the role of Ulrica in Verdi’s A Masked Ball • Performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Roosevelt as well as King George VI • United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and winner of the U.N. Peace Prize Mario Lanza – Tenor and Movie Actor • Born in Philadelphia, performed in local operatic productions here early in his career • First artist for RCA Victor Red Seal to receive a gold disc and sell two and a half million records • Portrayed Enrico Caruso in the film The Great Caruso • His recordings were the first to ever be transferred to CD Frankie Avalon – Popular Singer and Actor • Born in Philadelphia • His songs “Venus” and “Why?” both reached number one on Billboard magazine’s Top 100 • Played Teen Angel in the film Grease Dizzy Gillespie – Jazz trumpeter, Band Leader • Moved to Philadelphia to pursue a music career • Major influence in the development of bebop and modern jazz • Led the United Nations Orchestra Anna Moffo – Soprano • Born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, graduate of Radnor High School • Won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music • Performed many roles at La Scala as well as at the Metropolitan Opera including the role of Gilda in Rigoletto • In Italy, she hosted “The Anna Moffo Show” and was voted one of the 10 most beautiful women in the country Will Smith – Movie Actor and Hip-Hop Artist • Born in Philadelphia; graduate of Overbrook High School • Won two Grammys with longtime musical partner DJ Jazzy Jeff, also honored on The Walk of Fame • Star of the TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air • Nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Pursuit of Happiness Leopold Stokowski – Conductor • Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra • Conducted the score of the movie Fantasia. Most of the music was recorded at The Academy of Music • First conductor in America to record all four Brahms symphonies
Can you find these plaques along the Walk of Fame?
Opera Etiquette101 Attending the Opera
There’s nothing quite as exciting as attending the opera in a beautiful theater like the Academy of Music. If this is your first time at the opera there are a few things for which you should prepare:
Unlike actors on television or in the movies, performers onstage are acutely aware of the audience and want very much to share their love of singing and acting with you. Everything you do in the audience affects what happens on stage and behind the scenes. Because this is a working rehearsal, we ask that you please refrain from talking. The production team needs to concentrate on fine-tuning the production. You can show them how much you appreciate their work and the opportunity to come to this free rehearsal by being as quiet as possible. Have you ever tried to study for a test and there’s just too much noise at home or outside? It’s almost impossible to concentrate! So, please refrain from talking out of respect for the cast, musicians, and the entire production team. Give the artists and the production your full attention.
You will be attending the final dress rehearsal for this opera. This is the last opportunity that the artists will have to rehearse the entire opera before opening night just a few nights away. The goal is to treat this rehearsal exactly like a performance and perform the entire opera straight through without a pause. You may notice in the center of the Parquet level, the floor level of the Academy, several computer monitors and a large table spread out over the seats. Seated in this area is the production team: Director, Assistant Director, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Set Designer, and other members of the production team. They’ll be taking notes andcommunicating via headset with the many people backstage who help make all of the operatic magic happen: Stage Managers, Master Carpenter, Lighting Technicians, Supertitle Operator, Stage Managers and more. They’ll be able to give notes so changes can be instantly made. Should things go awry, they may stop and repeat a section to make sure that it is perfect.
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts so that everyone in the theater can enjoy the opera:
Please Do... • Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for the men and “Brava!” for the women. • Enter and exit the theater in an orderly fashion. • Please use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or at intermission. • Be careful in the auditorium! Because the theatre is 150 years old, it’s not necessarily designed for modern conveniences. • Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. • Enjoy the rehearsal. You’ve worked too hard preparing for the rehearsal not to!
Don’t Forget... • No food or beverages are to be brought inside the Academy of Music. • Photographs or video footage may not be taken during the performance. • No talking or whispering during the rehearsal. • No shoving, jumping, running, or spitting in the Academy of Music. The Holland Homeschool is prepared for the Sounds of Learning™ Dress Rehearsal of La bohème.
• No hooting, whistling, yelling or singing during the rehearsal. • Keep all objects to yourself. If you throw something, you might hurt someone and cause a disruption in rehearsal. It is grounds for removal from the auditorium. • MAKE YOUR SCHOOL PROUD!
Why I Like Opera By Jordan Thomas, 17 Creative and Performing Arts High School I used to think that opera was about a big fat lady in a Viking helmet and armor singing a bunch of high notes, or it was like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd singing “kill the wabbit” in the famous cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” I’m probably not the only one who thought that the first time they heard the word “opera.” There are a lot of reasons why I like opera. One of them is the story or drama. Some of my favorites are Turandot, Tosca, Salome, Medea, and Norma. When I start getting to know an opera I always read the libretto first so I know what’s going on. Sometimes when I finish reading it, my mouth is on the floor in amazement because the story is so wonderful and dramatic. Sometimes I laugh out loud if it’s a comic opera. Then I move on to the music. I love Rossini. Somehow, you can always whistle a tune from his operas, or find yourself dancing at the end of his overtures! Music is a big part of the opera because it sets the mood for what is happening. I love when there is a love scene and the music is so beautiful that it can bring tears to my eyes. When you get to know an opera well, you know what’s going to happen, but you still have that feeling that you are hearing the music for the first time. I also love when an opera’s setting is updated. For example, Bizet’s Carmen is constantly being given new settings. I was lucky enough to be in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Carmen as a member of the children’s chorus, and the setting was different. I thought it was a good production because it gave another point of view of the opera instead of the traditional setting in Spain in the 1800’s. Lots of people make opera happen. You have to give credit to the director, conductor, and all the people who work backstage. But opera wouldn’t be opera without the singers. The singers make the opera world happen. They make opera come alive.
Some make the characters their own, like the late grand diva, American soprano Maria Callas, who is famous for the roles of Tosca and Norma, or Dame Joan Sutherland as Lucia di Lammermoor. When I go to see an opera, my first words at intermission are, “weren’t those singers good” or “he or she really played his or her part well.” My favorite types of singers are what I call the “daring warriors,” the singers who really put emotion in their singing and are not fearful of anything. Well, I think I have said what I wanted to say, and I hope that more kids my age will like opera and will let opera continue forever.
Who were the
Druid. The word itself conjures up images of old wise men with long beards and long hair in long woolen cloaks who worshipped at great stone temples. But who were the Druids and what did they worship?
Charles Knight, “Arch-Druid in his full Judicial Costume” etching from Old England: A Pictorial Museum (1845)
Druidism was the dominant religion in preChristian Celtic society throughout Continental Europe, Great Britain, and Ireland. Druids were the wise men and women of their tribes. Druids headed worship services and sacrificial rites, political governance, and educated young Druid students about the order. They were philosophers, judges, educators, historians, doctors, prophets, shamans, astronomers, and astrologers, too.
They based their calendar on solar and lunar cycles together. The relationship between these cycles would be measured together to form a Metonic cycle, which measures the exact amount of time it takes the sun and the moon to return to the same exact meeting point in the heavens. A lunar cycle – from new moon to the next new moon – lasts 27 days; a solar cycle lasts about 365 days. These cycles were frequently observed around a solar or lunar eclipse.
The Random House dictionary defines a Druid as “a member of a pre-Christian religious order among the ancient Celts of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland.” The word is of Celtic origin and comes from the Greek root drus (oak) and the Sanskrit vid (to know or to see). Therefore, a Druid, was someone who had “oak knowledge” – or wisdom that was as old, great, and as strong as an oak tree.
Unlike the Greeks and Romans, Druids did not hold their rituals in temples. Their religious ceremonies were held in groves and forests – at one with nature. The Druids would find omens in the clouds and the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. They revered the oak tree and would eat acorns, the nuts from oak trees, to help them make prophecies. Nothing was more sacred to the Druids than mistletoe which grew on the oak tree, and they would not perform any sacred ritual without it. They would cut mistletoe from the oak trees with a gold pruning hook or sickle. While many people think that the Druids constructed Stonehenge in Salisbury, England, archaeologists have found that Stonehenge was built around 3500 B.C. The Druids didn’t appear until almost 2,000 years later.
The Druid teachings and sacred rites were passed down through an oral tradition – nothing was written down. Students could spend almost twenty years learning all of the Druid teachings. Students progressed through different levels as they advanced in their studies: Bards, Ovates and Druids. Bards were in charge of the arts and were keepers of the tribe’s tradition and oral history. Ovates were in charge of prophecy and divination. Druids were in charge of philosophical, teaching, counseling and judicial tasks. Druids honored nature and human’s relationship to the Earth which they worshipped through their gods and goddesses. They felt that mankind was just one small factor in the context of all natural and animal happenings that helped shape the state of the world. Druid tribes did not all honor the same gods. Clans could have as many as 33 – a magical Celtic number – of their own deities. Some of the more famous include: Arawn, Brigid, Cerridwen, Danu, Herne, Morgan, and Rhiannon. The Druids’ connection to nature led them to base some religious ceremonies on phases of the moon and sun like the Spring and Fall Equinox.
Druids were at one with the land and worshiped the gods and goddesses who created the earth. They were men and women who were influential in Celtic daily life in matters ranging from spirituality to politics.
Active Learning 1. Research one or more of the following fictional and historical Druids: Allaid, Birog, Cathbad, Divitiacus the Aeduan, Dub[h], the Gallizenae, Máel, or Mug Ruith.
2. How did their lives compare to that of Norma? What responsibilities did they share with Norma? What responsibilities were different?
The Druid’s Sacred Mistletoe In our opera, Norma is a Druid. One of the most important elements in the Celtic Druids’ religious rituals was mistletoe. Many Celtic mid-winter customs from Northern Europe, like the Yule log, have continued into modern times. We all know that mistletoe is hung about the house during the holidays. Anyone standing under the mistletoe may be kissed – but that tradition is certainly not new, as we will see. In the days of the Druids, mistletoe was part of the Winter Solstice celebration. The Druids believed the plant to be magic, for it appeared mysteriously, high in the branches of oak trees, and grew without soil. Furthermore, it didn’t seem to be grown from seed, so speculation about its origins often involved magic. That magic appearance in the oak tree made it even more important to the Druids. They saw in the berries of the mistletoe the seed of the masculine oak god, Bilé. This god was born of the life-giving waters of Danu, the Celts’ mother goddess of water. Danu is the root of the name for their sacred river Danube from whose headwaters the Celtic culture is believed to have evolved. This river was as sacred to the Celts as the Ganges is to the Hindus. With the union of the female god of water and the male god of the oak, the mistletoe appeared in the air of the tree. It was the symbol for Dagda who was the son of both Danu and Bilé. Dagda was the good god who was the father of all. Thus, mistletoe had special spiritual and fertility powers (this is the source of the tradition of kissing under mistletoe at Christmas). The oak was a source of medicine and food for the Druids. It was thought to offer protection from evil. The very name Druid means ‘oak knowledge’. According to the Roman author Pliny the Elder, at the time of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the mistletoe was cut down by a white-robed Druid priest wielding a golden sickle. This ritual ceremony signified the death of the old year; the new year would bring the rebirth of light. The cut mistletoe would be caught in a white cloth. It is an evergreen, so it represented the hope that the light would return and that the earth was not dying, even though the sun seemed to be lessening each day. As it rooted itself in the soft bark of deciduous trees, mistletoe brought green to the branches whose leaves had turned brown and fallen. Its stems fork into many branches, so even though its leaves are narrow, it shows bright green. The berries, like little pearls, ripen in December, just in time for the Solstice.
Mistletoe berries are poisonous to humans. However, a drink made from the leaves of the mistletoe was believed to be an antidote for poison. The leafy branches also are not poisonous. Three centuries ago, herbalists used them to treat epilepsy and nervous convulsions, and today the plant’s active ingredients are known to act as a sedative and to open constricted arteries, which will lower blood pressure. In cancer research, an extract of the plant is being tested for properties which delay the growth of tumors. So from the Druids to today’s medical researchers, the mistletoe has been the source of interest, awe, and hope. Mistletoe grows from northwestern Europe south to the Mediterranean and east to China. American mistletoe is found from New Jersey to Texas. In England, the oak is a favorite host tree, but mistletoe grows on a number of trees with leaves, especially on apple trees. In America it seems to prefer juniper trees.
Active Learning 1. Research and discover from where the name mistletoe comes.
2. Norma cuts mistletoe at the beginning of the opera. Why do you think she does this? What other clues in the text or music show what is the time of year in which the opera takes place?
3. What other mistletoe traditions do you know?
A drawing of European Mistletoe from Koehler’s Medicinal-Plants 1887.
The Celts of Old The opera Norma is about the Celts. Several ancient sources on the Celts depict them as barbaric. The ancient Greeks and Romans feared the Celts because of their advanced knowledge in making iron weapons. This fact made them superior in many battles. In 474 B.C. and in 387 B.C., the Celts of Northern Italy fought against the allied forces of Etruscans and Romans. They were both defeated and the Celts took hold of Rome itself. In 334 B.C., Alexander the Great made a peace treaty with the Celts where he recognized them as equals. In 280 B.C., the Celts reconsidered the peace treaty. Alexander died in 323 B.C., and his once great empire was in ruins. The Celts decided that the treaty was with Alexander and not his country. As a result, they invaded Macedonia and killed his heir. At the same time, another branch of the Celtic army entered the Greek peninsula and defeated the united army of the Greek states. They sacked the Greek holy site of Delphi, and carted much of the treasure back to southern Gaul. After this campaign, tens of thousands of Celts entered Asia Minor (present day Turkey) and joined forces with a local king who was fighting against Syria. These Celts founded the city of Galatia. Thus, Celtic culture extended from Turkey all the way to Ireland.
Vercingetorix, the great leader of the Gaulish “war of independence,” led one of the bloodiest campaigns against Rome in history. The Romans made him a human sacrifice to their god of war, Mars, in 45 B.C.
The Celts were not savages. They invented soap, were master road builders even before their invasion of Rome, and made great advances in metallurgy (the smelting of metals). Celtic military words found their way into the Latin language of the Romans. The Celts used Greek to record facts on accounts; however, their educated class, the Druids, did not put their knowledge into writing for fear that alien tribes could capture their writings and discover their wisdom. An educated Celt would spend twelve to twenty years mastering the oral knowledge of his or her people. Once they were tested and found to have mastered their school of wisdom, he or she would be recognized as a Druid. The Druids had an elected leadership and their opinions in matters of law, philosophy and medicine were the final word. In many ways, Celtic society was structured much like that of India. There were the chieftains or kings, the learned class of people who were called Druids, the professional military class called Gaesatae, and the working class that included the farmers, potters and weavers. The evolution of the Celtic culture put it at odds with the evolving culture of the Roman world. Romans were materialistic while the Druid’s Celtic culture was primarily spiritual. Rome placed its gods in temples; the Celts held that nature was the temple
because no creation of man could match their god’s glory as they found it in nature. Rome had a disciplined united state, the Celts were united in their myths and communal laws. While private property was of utmost importance in Rome, in the Celtic culture most property was held in common. In Rome, leadership and inheritance was passed to the eldest son, while in Celtic culture leadership was achieved through election by peers within the clans, and inheritance was communal. Another major difference was that women in the Celtic culture held positions of leadership within the Druid class and could be rulers of the people. In many ways Celtic culture was seen as subversive to the world order and was condemned by Rome’s peaceful empire. The Celts didn’t fit into the Roman world. Due to these differences, a basic culture clash existed between the Romans and the Celts. During times of peace it was a cold war, and when Rome was at war, the Celts supported their enemies with troops and arms. Rome looked upon the Celts as a primary enemy of their people. Even though the Romans learned many things from the Celts, and adapted their iron working and road building to meet their needs, Rome did not feel safe as long as the Celtic people were at their borders. Roman and Greek historians of the era looked negatively upon the Celts because they had defeated both nations in the past. When the historians from these two cultures wrote of the Celts they focused on what they saw as negative aspects of their traditions. As a result, what we have as Roman and Greek “history” is largely propaganda. As an example, much writing was done on the fact that the Celts held human sacrifices in their religious traditions. (There is very little evidence of this in present scholastic research, and leading scholars are now doubting this to be true.) All the same, while this seems savage to us, it is important to remember who was calling this culture barbaric. The Romans fed people to wild animals for entertainment in their capital’s great forum. Also, thousands of gladiators died in the bloodthirsty public games in the Colosseum. When Caesar captured the leader of the Celtic resistance, Vercingetorix, he was led back to Rome where he was strangled to death in honor of their god of war, Mars.
Caesar claimed that the British Celts wore skins, yet even in his day British woolen goods were prized items in the markets of Rome. Britain was the center of commercial trade outside of the Roman sphere of influence. There was more than one reason why Rome wanted to crush the Celts. They hoped to unify the economy of Europe under their power. The Celts were given a bad reputation due to Rome and Julius Caesar’s need to show why the financial and human costs of this war of conquest were justified. Other historians based their writings on other authors who feared and/or hated the Celts for past sufferings in previous wars. The Roman people were told that they were superior to the Celts so that the Romans would not question their right to conquer this feared people. The Celts were a powerful enemy. The warrior class would enter battle naked but for their armaments and gold collars around their necks. They would also paint their bodies blue to terrify their enemy. The Celts believed that they came into the world naked, and fighting naked prepared them to leave this world. They were considered ferocious on the battle field. Because they considered the head to be the depository of the soul, they would cut off the heads of the leader of their enemies in battle and take it back to their homes. This may have been done to prevent them from being reborn. Yet as we have learned in our own recent national history, people cannot always trust their government to tell their citizens the whole truth if a secret agenda is the basis for military activity. The wars in Vietnam, Central America, and the current War in Iraq come back to remind us what Ben Franklin advised us: we have a democracy as long as we can keep it. When we think of our history, we should be mindful of how Rome depicted her enemies.
Active Learning 1. Research the Gulf War and the Iraq War and write a paper on these military actions.
2. Research the Frankish chief that conquered Roman Gaul. What name did his nation take?
Gaul at the Time of Norma
Within our opera, Norma is a Druid who is a leader of her people. As we will see later, this was not uncommon. The Romans came to occupy Gaul when Divitiacus, a Celtic chieftain, went to Rome in 60 B.C. to address the Senate and request a military alliance against the invading Germans. Divitiacus, a Druid and well educated man, returned home with a promise of support from the Romans. Divitiacusâ€™ younger brother Dumnorix feared that the Romans would seek to take over their country and felt that they could not be trusted since they had already destroyed the Celtic culture in northern Italy. As a result, the Celtic leadership and nation split between these two leaders.
17 Caesar, seeing an opportunity for conquest, encouraged the Senate to support King Ariovistus of the Germans. Having the northern tribes at war with one another caused them to wear each other down to Rome’s benefit. After two years of warfare, Caesar invaded the lands of Gaul with an army and began to conquer its heartland. The young Dumnorix led a resistance movement against the Romans. When Rome conquered the Celts’ professional warriors (the Gaesatae) in 54 B.C., Divitiacus, who had turned to Rome for aid, disappeared. Dumnorix became the leader of the Celts and continued to fight but was taken hostage by Caesar. Caesar then turned his attention to Celtic Britain. He planned to take Dumnorix with him because he feared leaving the young Druid under guard. If a revolution were to take place, Caesar knew that Dumnorix would lead it. Dumnorix asked not to accompany Caesar to Britain because he had religious responsibilities to perform as a religious leader of his people. The young Druid escaped on the coast of Gaul and Caesar had his forces hunt him down. Dumnorix fought to his death declaring that he was born a free man in a free Gaul. His statement became the rallying cry of an uprising that took the Romans four years to quell. The warfare ended in 50 B.C., the time of our opera – Norma. The following year Caesar crossed the Rubicon River against the orders of the Roman Senate and took his army home to seize control of the government. Five years later, Caesar met his fate on the ides of March, 44 B.C. With Caesar dead, a civil war broke out across the Empire. Time and again the Celts rose up in revolution. Rome realized that the intellectual leadership of the people were the Druids and passed laws against them. This was done to pacify the nation. Often in history, when one nation conquered another, the educated class of the conquered people was killed. This enabled the Romans to try to reeducate the Celtic people into their belief system which matched their political goal – Peace of Rome – PAX ROMANA. However, the Celts continued their schools in the forests and the Druids continued to lead their people against repression. One of the traditions of Rome caused great difficulty for the women of Celtic culture. The Celts had much greater equality for women than most cultures in history. Celtic women were doctors, lawyers and judges. They could
divorce and take with them the wealth that they had brought into the marriage. They could also keep any wealth that their husbands had given them. They were also independent before the law from their husbands. If he was found guilty of a crime, it did not impact her or her standing in society. Women had the same rights as men in succession to leadership within the clans and could attain supreme authority. Many female warrior queens led their people. As far back as 377 B.C., Macha of the Red Hair was ruler of all Ireland. In 61 A.D., the female ruler of the British Celts, Boudicca, led her people in a massive and bloody war against Roman rule. Throughout Celtic history, women were leaders in war, ambassadors of their tribes in peace, and rulers of their people.
Active Learning 1. Research Boudicca and write a report on her.
In our opera, Norma is a leading Druid figure who conducts religious rites. Religions and societies have their rites and rituals; the transfer of power from one president to another, weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, funerals, sorority or fraternity admission procedures, military inspections and the laying of wreaths, and many others. In the opera Norma, there are several references to rites and rituals, including Normaâ€™s cutting of the sacred mistletoe (page 13). Make a list of the rituals you have attended: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Choose one ritual that you have experienced or know well. Why do you think the actions of the participants proceeded in this regulated manner? What power or strength do these regulated actions communicate? How do they affect the participants and those who observe? Many rituals are considered sacred. How does the behavior of the participants communicate reverence for the act to be performed? Do you feel that there is an inherent need to express some truths or social relationships in this manner? Write about a rite or ritual in some detail which you have experienced first hand. Refer to the questions for guidance. Essay: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Roman Foundation Bellini was a composer from Italy. Few nations on earth can boast as great an impact upon the collective human consciousness as the people of the Italian peninsula. Between 1200 and 700 B.C. a highly civilized tribe known as the Etruscans lived north of the Tiber river and south of the Arno river. Their land was roughly the same in size as that of Tuscany. To their south, the Latins began to develop a civilization built on the south bank of the Tiber River. Later they became known as the Romans after their city Rome. The Roman people had a legend that told of the birth of their city. It stated that twin boys were born of Mars, the war god, and Rhea Sylvia, a Vestal Virgin. The babies were abandoned but were suckled by a she-wolf. The boys Romulus and Remus grew strong and founded a city. Later the boys quarreled and Romulus killed Remus and gave Rome his name. The Etruscans of the north had great influence on Rome, and the last three Roman kings before the republic was formed were Etruscans. However, a rivalry between these two peoples ended with the Romans the victors. Rome then conquered the other Latin cities and dominated over all of Italy by the year 42 B.C. The Roman Republic saw the people elect a council. The government also had a senate and a consul as chief ruler who was elected every year. Roman law was published by the assembly in 451-450 B.C. These twelve tablets covered all areas of law. Roman society was divided into two camps, the patricians (fathers) and the plebeians (masses or peasants). In the early days of the republic, the patricians held all the high offices of state. This created instability in the government. The plebeian majority demanded the right to hold high office. In 366 B.C. the first plebeian council was elected in Rome which made the society stronger. After this date a new ruling class, known as nobles, evolved. They derived their power from their personal wealth. Between 90-88 B.C. a great revolt spread throughout Italy, and all Italian people were given citizenship in the Roman Republic. In time the generals of the Roman armies became very powerful. This led to the dictatorship of Julius Caesar who was assassinated by Brutus and Cassius in the Senate. After this, Mark Anthony and
Gaius Octavius ruled the Empire as consuls. After Mark Anthony died, Caesarâ€™s nephew and heir, Octavius, ruled alone and was later declared Augustus (exalted) by the Senate. From that point on, he ruled with absolute power. Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor and was the ruler during the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Early Roman religious beliefs were based upon nature myths. Many of these were replaced by the gods of Greece after Rome conquered it in 146 B.C. The Greek gods took Latin names: Aphrodite became Venus, Hermes became Mercury, and Aries became Mars. When the Christian movement spread to Rome, its followers were considered traitors for not accepting the state religion. The persecution began under Emperor Nero in 64 A.D. and lasted until Emperors Constantine, a Christian, and Licinius ended it in 313 A.D. In 314 A.D. Pope Silvester was crowned by Constantine as a temporal prince in Rome. The Popes (Fathers) ruled Rome until 1870. Starting in 407 A.D. Rome began to pull its forces from the outlying provinces of the Empire. However, these forces were too weak and Rome was sacked twice in the next 48 years. With the libraries burned and many of the educated citizens and skilled craftsmen killed, Roman society declined. The Dark Ages fell upon the lands of the once great empire as the Huns, Visigoths and Vandals soon settled in. In time, they converted to Christianity and a new European culture replaced ancient Rome. It was now the Holy Roman Empire.
Active Learning 1. Make a map of the ancient Roman world.
Gaius Octavius was later known as Caesar Augustus and ruled with absolute power over the Roman Empire.
The Life of 20
Vincenzo Bellini Vincenzo Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily, on November 3, 1801, the son of a maestro di cappella (a private music teacher) and composer. His grandfather, Vincenzo Tobia Bellini, was also a composer, and studied at a music conservatory in Naples. From an early age, Bellini displayed musical talent well beyond his years. As a child, he used to play with music papers in his hands and often imitated his father holding a baton and conducting an orchestra. He began playing piano at three and had composed his first works by age six.
Composer Vincenzo Bellini.
Because Catania was a small town, the only chance to hear music in public was at church, weddings, or funerals. The young Bellini’s first compositions, then, were intended for performance in church services. In 1811, when he was ten, Bellini bet his friends some candy that he could play the organ in church. But because he was small, he could not reach the pedals. So he directed his friends on the keys while he worked the pedals. When his father and grandfather found out about this, they decided to tutor him themselves, because there was no music school in Catania. For the next seven years, under his father and grandfather’s guidance, Bellini composed two Masses, as well as a Salve Regina for chorus and orchestra. Vincenzo’s grandfather saw the promise his grandson had, but because the Bellinis were not wealthy, they could not afford to send him to the Real Collegio of music in Naples. So he petitioned the city council of Catania to send his grandson away to school. The council accepted the proposal and Bellini moved to Naples to begin his studies in 1819. After his first year there, Bellini did well on an annual exam and was offered a free place at the Real Collegio. While in school, he composed many songs, wrote a number of symphonies, and a concerto for oboe, along with his school work. Meanwhile, his masses were performed in churches in his hometown of Catania.
At the Real Collegio, it was customary to introduce a student to the public with a performance of one of his works. In 1825 Bellini and his classmates performed the semi-serious opera Adelson e Salvini, his first opera. Due to the overwhelming success of this work, Bellini was commissioned to compose a new opera in 1826, Bianca e Gernando. Bellini’s next work was commissioned as well, to be performed at La Scala, Milan. In 1827 he moved to Milan, where he met Felice Romani, the famous librettist. The two became close friends and Romani collaborated with Bellini on his next seven operas. No other Italian composer in the bel canto era showed such dedication to a single librettist, probably because Bellini was “very fond of good words,” and Romani was considered the best versifier of the time. In Milan the two began work on Il pirata. Il pirata was first performed in Milan on October 27, 1827, and due to its success, Bellini was offered another commission to compose. Because this proposed opera came quickly on the heels of Il pirata, Bellini had no time to compose a new opera. Instead, he rewrote Bianca e Gernando and retitled it Bianca e Fernando out of respect for the dead king of Italy. It opened a new opera house in Genoa on April 7, 1828. Around the same time he met Giuditta Turina, the unhappily married woman with whom he was to have a love affair for the next five years. In the meantime, Bellini was offered another contract at La Scala, but before he could finish it, Bellini fell ill in the final months of 1828. This opera, La straniera (dedicated to Turina), was eventually completed and performed February 14, 1829, to great acclaim. In that same year, Bellini and Romani left Milan for Parma, where the two worked on Zaira, which was poorly received, and remains the only lasting failure of Bellini’s career. He and Romani left for Venice late in 1829, where they collaborated on I Capuleti e i Montecchi, with the libretto loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. After its success in 1830, Bellini fell ill once again and traveled back to Milan to recuperate. Bellini’s La sonnambula and Norma, both written and performed in 1831, are considered to be his greatest works. The title roles of these operas were sung by the celebrated diva Giuditta Pasta. Throughout early 1832, riding on the waves of praise for Norma, Bellini travelled throughout Italy and
spent time with his love Turina. At the end of 1832, Bellini decided to compose another opera, Beatrice di Tenda, but, because Romani didn’t send his libretto soon enough to Bellini, the composition was rushed. After several postponements, the opera opened on March 16, 1833 and was only somewhat successful. The disagreement over the libretto led to a rift in the friendship of the two men, which wasn’t healed until a year later. Bellini’s relationship with Giuditta Turina also came to an end, as her husband found out about her affair, and began divorce proceedings. Sadly, Bellini rejected his former love and remained indifferent to her troubles. Bellini, after moving to Paris, obtained a contract for the Théâtre Italien and worked on I puritani, with a libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli of Bologna. During this time, Bellini renewed his friendship with Romani through correspondence. I puritani was first performed in early 1835 and was showered with praise. Bellini was planning to compose another opera when he died, after a short illness, in his house outside of Paris on September 23, 1835 at the age of 33. The famous composers Gioacchino Rossini and Luigi Cherubini, both at Bellini’s funeral, held the funeral shroud. The first line of a famous aria from the composer’s La sonnambula was engraved on Bellini’s tomb in Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery. The line, “Ah, non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore,” translates as “Ah, who would believe that this flower would die so soon.” It is a fitting tribute to a composer who passed away at far too young an age. He will live on through his touchingly poignant and hauntingly beautiful music in theaters throughout the world.
Active Learning 1. Make a drawing or painting of Bellini. 2. Illustrate your favorite part of the libretto of Norma. 3. Make a map of Sicily and show the birth-place of Bellini. 4. Go to an encyclopedia and research the events of 1831 in Bellini’s life. Write a short paper on this Year in the Life of Bellini.
5. Create a diorama on the opera and show the scene that you feel displays the most action.
6. Write a poem based on a character in the opera.
The Operas of Vincenzo Bellini
1801-1835 Adelson e Salvini (1825) Bianca e Gernando (1826) Il pirata (1827) Bianca e Fernando (1828) La straniera (1829) Zaira (1829) I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830) La sonnambula (1831) Norma (1831) Beatrice di Tenda (1833) I puritani (1835)
Soprano Anna Netrebko sang the role of Juliet in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2002 production of Bellini’s The Capulets and the Montagues. Photo courtesy Paul Sirochman Photography.
Below is a list of important historical events in Vincenzo Bellini’s life and throughout the world. The items in boldface type relate to Bellini, the other items are historic or cultural events. Discuss what it might have been like to be alive during the time period. How would your life be different or the same? How did the inventions of the time affect daily life?
On November 3, Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily, son of Rosario Bellini, and grandson of Vincenzo Bellini, both famous musicians and music teachers. In France Napoleon opened the Louvre Museum to the public. The United States Navy Yard was built in Philadelphia.
The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory for 60 million francs. Lewis and Clark began their three-year journey of exploration and discovery to the Pacific Coast.
Bellini began to play the piano. Bellini began to compose his first pieces. The further importation of slaves was abolished by Congress, but an inter-American slave trade continued.
1808 1809 1811-1818
Bellini received musical instruction from grandfather Vincenzo.
A group of amateur naturalists formed the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
King Kamehameha conquered and unified all the Hawaiian islands. Bellini composed music for the Church, including a Salve Regina for chorus and orchestra, and performed the organ in his church.
The Brothers Grimm published their first collection of stories. The first American recipe for tomato ketchup was published.
1814 1816 1818
September 21, “Star Spangled Banner” was published as a poem. The first savings bank in the United States opened in Philadelphia. People began wearing left and right shoes. Shoes were made identical for either foot prior to this. “Silent Night” by Franz Gruber was performed for the first time on December 25th, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein.”
Bicycles in were introduced in the United States in New York City. Bellini accepted a scholarship from Catanian government to study at the Real Collegio in Naples.
1820 1821 1824 1825 1826
Because he was at the top of his class, Bellini was allowed to study at the Collegio for free. College of Apothecaries, the first United States pharmacy college, was organized in Philadelphia. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was formed in London. Bellini’s first opera Adelson e Salvini successfully performed at his college, leading to a contract for an opera for San Carlo, Naples. Bianca e Gernando was first performed on May 30 at San Carlo, Naples.
1827 1827 1828
Bellini moved to Milan where he met Felice Romani, who collaborated with him on seven operas. On October 27, his opera Il pirata was premiered at La Scala in Milan. Joseph Dixon began manufacturing lead pencils. Bellini rewrote his first opera as Bianca e Fernando for the April 7th opening of a new opera house in Genoa. Bellini met Giuditta Turina, with whom he has an affair for the next five years.
Bellini’s highly successful La straniera premiered on February 14 at La Scala while his Zaira had a disastrous premiere on May 16 in Parma. The cornerstone was laid for first United States Mint on Chestnut and Juniper Streets in Philadelphia. The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia received its first prisoner.
March 11, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was produced in Venice. After falling ill, Bellini spent the summer at Lake Como where he wrote La sonnambula for his friend, the famous diva, Giuditta Pasta. May 24, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was written.
La sonnambula (with Pasta in the title role) was first performed on March 6 at Teatro Carcano in Milan. Norma (again featuring Pasta) premiered on December 26 at La Scala. Both operas were great successes. Naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS Beagle.
Bellini traveled to Naples and Sicily for a holiday and was honored by his native Catania and elsewhere in Italy. The song “America” was sung publicly for the first time at a Fourth of July celebration by a group of children at Park Street Church in Boston.
On March 16, Beatrice di Tenda received poor reviews following its premiere in Venice and Bellini and Romani have a falling out. Barney Flaherty (aged 10) answered an ad in “The New York Sun” and became the first newsboy, what we now call a paperboy.
Bellini signed a contract for an opera with Théâtre Italien in Paris. Through letters, renews his friendship with Romani. Finishes I puritani and begins rehearsals in December.
The British Emancipation Act began, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire. I Puritani is staged on January 24 at the Theatre Italien in Paris and is a triumph. Falls ill in September and dies alone in a suburb of Paris on September 23.
Active Learning 1. Explore the library or the internet and discover more events that occurred during this era. Create your own timeline and include other historical and cultural information from the time. Find the answers to the questions below and add the information to your timeline.
2. Much expansion and exploration took place in this time period in North America. a. Which states entered the Union during Bellini’s lifetime? b. Which presidents were in office? c. When were the following political leaders in power? 1. Napoleon (France) 2. Nicholas I (Russia) 3. Louis Philippe (France) 4. Queen Victoria (Great Britain) d. During what year were the following invented? 1. Bicycle 2. Stethoscope 3. Internal combustion engine 4. Refrigerator 5. Lawn mower Information taken from Timelines of History website at http://timelines.ws.
Bellini’s Norma is considered one of the greatest bel canto operas. Other famous composers of that era include Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti. Literally, the Italian words “bel canto” mean “beautiful singing”. The term originated in 16th century Italy and was used to describe the Italian operatic style which was popular through the 19th century. Bel canto singing is elegant and arose as a musical protest against the supposedly crude medieval way of singing. In bel canto, a fuller vocal tone with florid and ornamented singing was praised, and lighter vocal tones were less prevalent. The beginning of bel canto as a way of singing is attributed to Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612), who was a voice teacher in Venice. By the end of the 17th century, bel canto had become the dominant style in Europe and had even influenced church music. The famous Italian composer Rossini (1792-1868) was probably bel canto’s biggest supporter, as well as its last. According to an interview with Rossini held in 1858, where he mourned the demise of bel canto, he stated that a bel canto singer had to have three requirements. He or she had to have a beautiful, even-toned singing voice; he or she had to be trained to sing highly florid music; and his or her vocal style was something that was assimilated from other bel canto singers and could never be taught by any other singers. Rossini’s requirements were the first time that such a definition of bel canto singing was succinctly expressed.
The castrati, often identified with the bel canto era of singing, were male singers who were castrated before they reached puberty in order to preserve their voices. However, it was not this operation alone that allowed them to reach the levels of singing popularly associated with the bel canto; their intense and continual training, rather than their preserved voices alone, led to their power and range. Castrati occupied an interesting position in society. On the one hand, they were adored and praised for their singing abilities. But on another, they were ridiculed for their supposed lack of masculinity and their grotesque appearance (one side effect of their operation was an obesity in their faces and bodies). One of the most famous castrati was Farinelli (1705-1782). His popularity was so great that at one 18th century performance, a woman attending the opera he was singing shouted, “one God, one Farinelli!” After leaving public performances in 1737, Farinelli became an assistant to the Spanish kings Philip V and Ferdinand VI. So great was his fame that in the late 18th century, one writer accredited him with actually inventing the vocal style that came to be known as bel canto. Castrati disappeared from the world of opera singing in the 1830’s, probably as a result of the disappearance of bel canto. These castrati often had careers after they left the stage. Their popularity was such that several became involved in politics. After Rossini’s death, bel canto became something open to an individual’s own interpretation. It has since never been applied to any singular vocal style after Rossini’s time. And since Rossini, many people, including composers, music teachers, and voice teachers have used the term to apply to whatever they want it to mean. In this way, the traditional or classical meaning of the term has been changed. With the advent of Giuseppe Verdi’s compositions in the 1830s and 1840s, bel canto had died out.
Active Learning 1. Listen to “Casta Diva” (Track 2) or “Mira, O Norma” Baritone Roberto de Candia and mezzo-soprano Laura Polverelli in Rossini’s bel canto comedy, The Barber of Seville.
(Track 6) on your teacher’s CD of music. How would you describe this music? What qualities does it have that seem to meet the definition of bel canto?
Creating a Masterpiece It was in April 1831 that Bellini knew he would be opening the carnival season at La Scala that year with a new opera. He also knew that Giuditta Pasta and Domenico Donzelli would be the leads. By late July he had chosen the subject, which he thought would showcase Pasta’s exceptional talent. The opera would be based on Alexandre Soumet’s 5-act play, “Norma,” which had been a huge success with both critics and audiences when staged earlier that year. His librettist, Felice Romani, provided the text for the introduction on August 31st, and Bellini began to compose in early September. The two men worked closely together for three months, and the opera was ready for rehearsal by the first week of December. It premiered on December 26, 1831. The first night did not go well, but after that the audiences showed their approval, and Norma was performed at La Scala 34 times that season. It was staged all over Europe in the next few years, and soon became one of the 19th century’s most popular operas. Singers everywhere desired to sing its leading roles. (Also, one interesting note is that many baby girls at that time were being named Norma.) Norma reached the United States in 1841, where it was first staged in Philadelphia and then went to New York. During the 20th century, Norma continues to be performed throughout the world. Two of its most famous lead singers were Rosa Ponselle and Maria Callas. Rosa Ponselle sang her first Norma at the Metropolitan in 1927. Maria Callas made her London debut at Covent Garden in 1952, her American debut at Chicago in 1954 and her first appearance at the Metropolitan in 1956, all in the same role. On March 3, 1970, the Metropolitan Opera received its highest ticket sales up to that time and many standing ovations when Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne shared the stage for the first time in the lead female roles. One of the most celebrated of soprano arias in opera is in the first act of Norma. “Casta Diva” is a prayer to the moon (the ‘chaste goddess’). When Giuditta Pasta first heard it, however, she did not think it was her style. But Bellini asked her to sing it every day at home for a week, and if she still did not like it, he would write another aria for her. During that week Pasta fell in love with it, and made it one of the highlights of the opera and her career.
This image depicts the world premiere of Norma with Domenico Donzelli as Pollione, Giulia Grisi as Adalgisa, and Giuditta Pasta as Norma.
Though the lyricism of Norma has always been highly regarded, many critics have complained about the ‘poverty’ of Bellini’s orchestration. However, when asked to reorchestrate Norma to meet French taste, Bellini wrote in 1835: ‘You are mistaken: here and there it might work, but in general I would find it impossible because of the plain and flowing nature of the melodies, which admit no other kind of instrumentation than what is there already: and this I have fully thought through.’ Wagner, who conducted Norma on several occasions and tried to reorchestrate it himself, eventually came to the same conclusion. What makes Norma stand out is its achievement of tragic splendor through musical organization. At the end of Act II, which Bellini considered some of the best work he had done so far, Bellini shows the spiritual elevation and the despair of the main characters through a smooth, lyrical, flowing style that draws out the tears and sympathy in one long, sustained musical form. In Norma, Bellini combines a romantic intensity of emotion with a classical dignity that continues to move audiences today.
26 Norma Christine Goerke, soprano Rosalinde, Die Fledermaus (2005) Alice, Falstaff (2007)
Adagisa Kristine Jepson, mezzo-soprano OCP Debut
Clotilde Allison Sanders, mezzo-soprano Annie, Porgy and Bess (2007) Giovanna, Rigoletto (2007)
Director Kay Walker Castaldo Werther (2001) The Capulets and the Montagues (2002) Madama Butterfly (2002) Il trovatore (2003) The Pearl Fishers (2004)
Philip Webb, tenor OCP Debut
Oroveso Eric Owens, bass Sarastro, The Magic Flute (2001) Banquo, Macbeth, (2003) Friar, Don Carlo (2004)
Flavio Dominic Armstrong, tenor Borsa, Rigoletto (2007)
Conductor Corrado Rovaris La traviata (2003) Don Pasquale (2004) Aida (2005) Die Fledermaus (2005) A Masked Ball (2005) The Barber of Seville (2005) The Marriage of Figaro (2006) La bohĂ¨me (2006) Cinderella (2006) Falstaff (2007) Rigoletto (2007) Hansel and Gretel (2007)
You may have seen these artists in one of our recent productions. To learn more about them, visit our website at www.operaphila.org.
Christine Goerke It’s been an interesting road to the opera stage. I never even thought of pursuing a career as a singer when I was in high school. I started out wanting to teach high school band. I played the clarinet for years and learned to play other woodwind instruments too. Flute and saxophone were fun, but when I learned to play the Bass Clarinet, I thought that was a blast! I didn’t really know I could sing until I was in college. I had to take a placement test at the music school to see if I could sight read music. That means just looking at a piece of music and “singing” what’s on the page. You don’t have to sing it well, just get the notes and note values right. It turned out that the school liked my singing more than my clarinet playing! I was very confused by this, but then realized that I didn’t have to carry around an instrument in a case, and could just sing instead... so – I guess you could say I’m a singer because I was lazy! Actually, I laugh sometimes when people say that they think that singing is something that you just get up and do, and that’s that. Singing is really hard work! Education plays a very big part in it, too, but education is important in any choice of career, not only music. We singers all train for years. Not just learning how to sing, but learning about different kinds of music, different composers, and what was going on in the world historically when pieces were written. This makes a difference when you’re trying to become a character in a different time period. We study movement, acting, and I even studied Oceanography and Statistics too! Then there are the many languages we have to learn and study in order to be able to sing in them. Norma is by Vincenzo Bellini. It was written in Italian and was first performed in Milan, Italy on December 26, 1831. I had to study Italian, and learn Italian diction when I was in college. Diction is just a schmancy word for pronouncing a language correctly when you sing in it. I started to study different languages in college. I’m not fluent in all of them, but I can speak enough Italian, German, and French to get by - and I can understand what I’m saying when I sing in all of them now. But it took time, like anything that you learn for the first time! The first time I had to sing an opera in a language other than English I was scared to death. I was in college and didn’t know Italian very well yet. I translated everything on the top of the page and
hoped that it would be enough. I somehow was able to get through it and made lots of mistakes! I was able to laugh about it. That was the greatest thing I learned very early on. We will always make mistakes and if we can’t laugh about them and learn from them? What is the point? I came away from my education with so much more than just my knowledge and understanding of music. This is the way that any education or career path should go. Learn everything that you can. Soak it up like a sponge. I promise – you’ll never know when you can use the information that you’ve learned, and when it will make you more valuable at your job! I really love what I do, but being away from my friends and family when I have to travel far from home is toughest part of the job. So, when I’m home, I really make the time count. My husband Jim used to be a chef - he’s incredible in the kitchen, and I’m a very lucky lady... but we love two things: pizza night and BBQ night. There is a place near our house called “Cubby’s BBQ.” The most amazing ribs! We also really have an addiction to miniature golf. I know that probably sounds stupid but it’s so much fun! I love watching Family Guy – it cracks me up, and I was hooked on Days of Our Lives every since my Mom got me started watching it when I was 10 years old! Despite all the hard work, it’s so much fun to be able to sing. Singing is fun wherever you do it: in the bathtub, in the car, on stage, in school – you name it. I’m very lucky because I get to make a living doing what I love, and having fun too! Plus, I love seeing and feeling the audience enjoying themselves. When people sit in an audience to watch a show, and they get involved with what is on stage? The performers can “Feel” that involvement. When I know that the audience is being moved by what I’m doing? It’s the best reward I could ask for. I hope you enjoy Norma! Christine To learn more about Christine, check out her webpage at www.christinegoerke.com, and send her a message!
Soprano Christine Goerke. Photo: Christian Steiner.
Dance spectacle set to music.
Highest pitched woman’s voice.
Dramatic text adapted for opera.
Low female voice.
A drama or comedy in which music is the essential factor; very little is spoken.
Opera with dramatic and intense plots.
Music composed for a singing group.
A composition written for two performers.
A group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments.
Highest pitched man’s voice.
A musical style used in opera and oratorio, in which the text is declaimed in the rhythm of natural speech with slight melodic variation.
10. Chorus 11. Act
14. Opera Buffa 15. Recitative
M. Male voice between bass and tenor.
A piece of music originally designed to be played before an opera or musical play.
The term describing the realistic or naturalistic school of opera that flourished briefly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; libretti were chosen to depict a ‘slice of life’.
Deepest male voice.
Elaborate solo in an opera or oratorio.
Main division of a play or opera.
The opera takes place in Gaul, around the year 50 B.C. The Romans, having conquered the Gauls, put the reins of government into the hands of Pollione, a Pro-Consul. Pollione fell in love with Norma, the daughter of Oroveso, Arch Druid. Norma was regarded by the superstitious Gauls as the oracle through whom their grand deity, Irminsul, communicated. Norma, however, had become secretly united to Pollione and given birth to two children, which had remained a secret to all except Clotilde. In the Sacred Forest of the Druids, the high priest Oroveso and the Druid people gather in the forest to pray for a signal from Irminsul to go to war against the Roman invaders. When they have left, the Roman proconsul, Pollione, confesses to his aide that he no longer loves the high priestess Norma, who has broken her vow of chastity and borne him two sons. Instead, he has fallen in love with Adalgisa, a young temple priestess, and despite an ominous dream, is determined to bring her to Rome and marry her. They leave as the Druids assemble and Norma, Oroveso’s daughter, prays to the moon goddess for peace. After the Druids disperse, Adalgisa arrives to pray for strength to resist Pollione, but when he appears he persuades her to flee with him to Rome the next day. In her home Norma tells her companion Clotilde that she fears Pollione will abandon her and her children. Adalgisa comes to confess her secret love and seek Norma’s guidance. Recalling her own weakness and touched by the story, Norma releases her from her vows. But her kindness turns to fury when Pollione appears and Norma learns he is Adalgisa’s suitor. Adalgisa is appalled to learn that he has also seduced Norma and vows she will die in order to restore Pollione to Norma and their children. Norma watches over her sleeping children and resolves to kill them to prevent them from becoming Roman slaves. However, she cannot bring herself to murder and instead summons Adalgisa to take them to Pollione and look after them. Norma intends to give herself up to the law, which binds the priestesses of the Temple of Irminsul to strict celibacy, under penalty of death by fire, for violation of this regulation. Adalgisa refuses, and offers to go to Pollione to persuade him to return to Norma.
The Druids assemble at their altar to hear Oroveso’s announcement that Pollione is being replaced by a crueler commander. At the temple, Norma is stunned to hear from Clotilde that Adalgisa’s entreaties to Pollione have failed, and in a fury she strikes the sacred shield to summon her people to war against the Romans. Oroveso demands a sacrificial victim, and just then Pollione is dragged in, having been captured while trying to break into the virgins’ temple. Alone with him, Norma promises him his freedom if he will renounce Adalgisa and return to her. When he refuses, Norma orders a pyre to be prepared, and reveals that she herself will be the sacrificial victim. She announces to all of her faithlessness to her priestly vows. Moved by her nobility, Pollione insists on sharing her fate. After begging Oroveso to watch over her children, Norma leads her lover to the pyre while the crowd prays.
Norma confronts Pollione after declaring war on the Romans.
So you want to sing like an
Singing on the opera stage is a lot of hard work. Singers are like athletes in that they are constantly training to perfect their voices. They ask their voices and bodies to do things that most of us without training can’t do; specifically, to sing incredibly intricate and difficult music and project their voice over a sixty piece (or more) orchestra and still be heard.
Singing begins with the human voice. The voice is a very versatile instrument. It can produce sounds that present a wide range of frequencies that we call pitches. Pitches can be high or low. Women can sing in the highest pitches and men in the lowest ones.
Lyric Soprano Sari Gruber as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
Our voices are also able to change in volume. Sometimes we speak softly as when we are telling a secret. Other times we yell as if we were at a football game. These are some of the ways we can look at the human voice. But we can go deeper and see it as a
gift of human biology. Voices are powered by the air that is exhaled out of the lungs. The diaphragm, a muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen, is used to control that flow of air. The abdomen is right behind the stomach muscles and contains the intestines, spleen, and other organs. It’s always important to breathe from the diaphragm. Inhaling deeply causes the diaphragm to lower while the ribs and stomach expand. The shoulders should not rise. The diaphragm forces the air out when it contracts. When it does this, it causes the vocal chords to vibrate. The vocal chords are actually folds of fibrous bands that are stretched along the two sides of the larynx. The larynx is the body’s sound instrument. It is just below the ‘Adam’s apple.’ When we hum, talk, or sing, air passes through the larynx and it vibrates. As the air vibrates it creates a sound that is then shaped by the other parts of our bodies. This includes the mouth, tongue, teeth and lastly the lips. Babies experiment with singing, laughing, screaming, and babbling. This is done to exercise the vocal chords and learn how to control them. The pitch of the voice (how high or how low we speak) is created by them. Singers must masterfully control the flow of air through the vocal chords in the larynx. Each sung note is determined by how the chords are controlled. This is why singers have vocal exercises, so that they can quickly adjust to the demands of the music without thinking about it.
Singers must learn how to shape their mouth to control the sound that comes out of it. Specific sounds are controlled by the size and shape of the mouth. Think of the mouth and entire head as being like a megaphone. Singers use all open spaces in their mouths, sinuses, and skull like a megaphone to help project their voices. Singers raise the soft palate, located on the roof of your mouth towards the back, to help create the megaphone effect. An indicator that enough space has been created is that your uvula, or the little fleshy piece that hangs down in the back, is raised and it doesnâ€™t dangle. In opera, singers perform in many languages. So that singers are able to effectively communicate their lines, they often work with language coaches. Different languages demand various ways of expressing text. Each language has its own unique way of being enunciated. Once a singer knows the science of singing, the singer must be careful to understand the music and the text of the song. Certain emotions can also demand certain ways of enunciating the text. In this way, the singer combines vocal techniques with the emotional context of the music to enhance the words. This process creates the passionate music we know as opera.
Sound and Active Learning The vocal chords vibrate and create sounds that our mouth then forms so that we can talk or sing. Without our mouth we would only be able to express a sound similar to a hum. It is the mouth that is the sound shaper that produces our words and songs. Our wind pipe is a tube though which the air is passed over the larynx. After the air picks up a vibrating sound from our vocal chords, the mouth enunciates the sound into words and projects the new text-added sound into the world. We can understand both of these as a human instrument. We can make a model of our human instrument. Our model will not be able to shape the sounds into words, but it will express the various humming pitches necessary for words to be created. The place of the vocal chords will be taken by a rubber band. The place of the mouth will be taken by various size paper or plastic cups.
Experiment 1. Place a hole in the bottom of the cups. 2. Cut rubber bands so that they become long stretches of rubber.
3. Pull on the rubber band so that it vibrates. How does pitch change? Record your findings.
4. Tie the rubber band to a small object that is larger than the hole in the cup. (Paper clip) This object will act as a plug to the hole. Be sure to make a square knot on the object so that the pressure in the next step does not cause the knot to slip out and the object to be ejected from the cup.
5. Slide the rubber band through the small hole in the cup and pull it through until the object catches on the inside bottom of the cup.
6. Pull on the rubber band again so that it vibrates a second time. Record your findings.
7. In comparing the two sounds, what did you observe happen after the cup was added to the activity?
8. Place different sized cups into your experiment and record your findings.
9. Cover the cup opening with your hand. Pull on the rubber band. Record your findings.
10. See if you can get your cup to make sounds like a baby.
The Highs and Lows of the
Operatic Voice Did you ever wonder what the difference is between a soprano and a mezzo-soprano or what voice type can sing the highest note and the lowest? Most opera singers fall into a voice type that reflects the singer’s vocal range as well as the dramatic requirements of singing a particular role. Above all the voice is an instrument - a human one. Opera singers spend much time learning correct singing techniques that allow them to sing without amplification. There is no grabbing a microphone and belting out arias in opera. All the sound that an opera singer produces is done through the sheer power of the human voice. So how does one become a soprano, mezzosoprano, tenor, baritone, or bass, the five most common types of voices? Some of it has to do with the size of the vocal chords and the speed at which they vibrate. It also has to do with vocal range, which can be defined as the span from the lowest note to the highest note that a particular singer can produce. Vocal range is very important in opera singing. Two other things which are taken into consideration when determining a singer’s voice type are the consistency of timbre (sound quality or color of the voice) and the ability to project the voice over a full orchestra. Remember, there are no microphones in opera, and there are small, medium, large and extra large voices. Soprano Barbara Hendricks compares the differences in vocal types to the differences between a Mack truck and a Maserati. She says “...one can haul a load, but the other can take the curves.”
Some terms that are used to describe operatic voices are:
Coloratura: typically a voice with a very high range with the ability to sing complicated passages with great agility. Dramatic: a heavy, powerful voice with a steely timbre. Lyric: an average size voice, but capable of singing long beautiful phrases. Lyric spinto: a somewhat more powerful voice than that of a true lyric. Helden: a German term referring to a powerful voice capable of singing very demanding roles. Falsetto: the upper part of a voice, more often used in reference to male voices. Let’s define a few of the voice types that audiences generally hear in opera: For females, the highest voice type is the soprano. In operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the heroine because she projects innocence and youth. Within this category, there are other sub-divisions such as, coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, and dramatic soprano. Each of these voices has particular lighter or darker voice qualities as well as differences in range. Some of the roles sung by these voice types include: the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (coloratura), Mimi in La bohème (lyric) and Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos (dramatic). The mezzo-soprano has a lower range than the soprano. Many mezzo-sopranos sing the so-called “trouser” roles, portraying young boys or men, or they may be the villainesses or perhaps motherly types. This category is also sub-divided into coloratura mezzo, who can sing complicated fast music through a large range. The comedic heroines of Gioachino Rossini’s operas, such as Cinderella, The Barber of Seville, and The Italian Girl in Algiers, are well-suited for this voice type. The dramatic mezzo is most often found singing the operas of Giuseppe Verdi in roles such as Amneris in Aida, or Princess Eboli in Don Carlo. One of the most well known roles for a dramatic mezzo is the fiery gypsy Carmen in the opera of the same name.
The contralto or alto is the lowest female voice and the darkest in timbre. This voice type is usually reserved for specialty roles like the earth goddess Erda in Richard Wagner’s Nordic fantasy-epic The Ring of the Nibelungen. Since this is such a rare voice type, dramatic mezzos often sing roles in this range. Marian Anderson, a Philadelphia native, was one of the world’s most famous contraltos ever. For males, the tenor is generally considered to be the highest male voice in an opera, and is most often the hero or the love interest of the story. His particular voice type determines which roles are best for him to sing. There are many different types of tenor voices. Two of the more common ones are lyric tenors, whose voices have high, bright tones, and dramatic tenors whose voices have a darker sound with a ringing quality in the upper range. Two of the more famous roles for tenors include Rodolfo in La bohème (lyric) and Radames in Aida (dramatic). A countertenor is able to sing even higher than a tenor. This voice actually falls within a female’s voice range. Through the use of a man’s falsetto voice, the voice produces a sound that is sometimes described as otherworldly. A baritone is the most common type of male voice whose range lies midway between the high tenor voice and the low bass voice. He can play several types of roles. In comedic operas, he is often the leader of the funny business, but he can also be the hero who sacrifices himself for the tenor or soprano, or sometimes, he is the villain. This voice has a dramatic quality capable of producing rich, dark tones. The hunchback court jester in the title role in Rigoletto (dramatic) and the popular Toréador Escamillo in Carmen are favorite roles for baritones.
In general, a bass is the lowest and darkest of the male voices. The word bass comes from the Italian word basso, which means low. Some singers in this category are referred to as bass-baritones because they have voices that range between the bass and the baritone voice. A bass is ideal for several types of roles. A basso serio or basso profondo portrays characters who convey wisdom or nobility such as Sarastro in The Magic Flute. In contrast, a basso buffo sings comedic roles such as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. So, no matter what the size, quality or range, a singer’s voice has the ability to thrill an audience with its sheer beauty and musicality.
Active Learning Let’s imagine that The Lord of the Rings had been made into an opera. What voice types would you cast in the major roles and why? Frodo
Into the Pit:
The Opera Orchestra The orchestra is very important to the opera, mainly because it provides the singers with a cushion of sound to sing over, while at the same time being independent and equal in importance. The orchestra used for opera is a lot like a symphony orchestra, with four instrumental families and other various instruments. Each instrument family has instruments that sound in four different categories, much like the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voice parts. The conductor, or maestro, has many responsibilities. He or she stands in the pit in front of the orchestra, and ensures that the opera progresses musically as it should. The conductor is in charge of keeping the music in balance by making sure that the orchestra doesn’t drown out the singers. The orchestra must also have a certain blend, so that the right instrument is highlighted at the right time. The conductor is in charge of that as well. The conductor paces the tempo, or speed of the music, so that it does not rush or drag. He or she also cues the singers and instrumentalists before they make their musical entrance. In some opera houses, video monitors are placed around the stage and in the stage wings, showing the conductor in the pit. Singers may look at the monitors so they don't have to look directly down at the pit so often.
The String Family The instruments in the string family are almost always played with a bow drawn across the strings, but sometimes a composer will mark music as pizzicato, which is Italian for “plucked”, and indicates to the musician that the passage should be plucked with the fingers. The violin we know today has been around since the 1500s, but has been around much longer than that in simpler forms, known as fiddles. The number of strings on the instrument used to vary depending on when the violin was made, but now all string instruments in the orchestra have four strings. The four instruments of the string family are called the violin, viola, cello, and the double bass. The violin is the soprano of the string family. There are usually two violin sections, the first and second violins. These two groups have separate parts to play. First violins play higher than second violins, and all violins play the melody for most of the time. The Concertmaster or Concertmistress is the chief first violinist.
The viola is a little larger than the violin, and it is the alto voice of the strings. When it plays, its sound quality is dark and somber, not at all like the violin. The tenor or baritone voice of the strings is the cello. It is much larger than the viola or violin, so large that the player sits on a chair and plays the cello between his knees while a bottom peg rests on the floor. Its sound quality is beautiful and somber, like the viola. The double bass represents the bass of the string family. It typically has some sort of rhythmic line, and is so much larger than the cello that the player must stand up in order to play it.
The Woodwind Family Woodwind instruments are played by blowing air either across a hole or into a reed, making vibrations that produce sound. The soprano of the woodwinds is called the flute. There are three main flute sizes, the smallest being the piccolo, the medium size called the C flute, and the larger size called the alto flute. Flutes are usually silver-plated or made of silver, while some are gold-plated or have gold-plated keys. The earliest flutes were made of wood, which is why they are in the woodwind family though they are now made of metal. The oboe is the alto of the woodwind family, and sometimes it can sound a little like a duck. Mostly, though, it carries the melody and has a sad sound. It is related to the English horn and bassoon, and all three instruments are known as double reeds. Unlike the clarinet or saxophone that has a reed strapped onto a mouthpiece, the oboe, English horn, and bassoon have two reeds tied together and no mouthpiece.
The tenor voice of the woodwinds speaks through the clarinet, a single reed instrument, which means it has a reed strapped to a mouthpiece. The clarinet often accompanies the prima donna, and has a wide range and a woody sound. The bassoon’s name means big bass, so it’s easy to guess what voice this instrument represents. It is related to the oboe, contrabassoon, and English horn.
The Brass Family The brass family instruments are played much like the woodwind family, except they are made out of metal, usually brass or silver or silver-plated, and their mouthpieces are made of metal only, with no reeds. The trumpet is the soprano voice of the brass family. It evolved from the cornet and other types of ancient horns, but the earlier horns did not have valves like the modern trumpet does to change notes. The players would have to use their air stream and lips to change the sound of the notes. French horns add an alto voice to the brass family. The player must keep his or her hand inside the bell of the instrument and bring the mouthpiece up to his or her lips. The French horn has so many bends of piping that if someone was to unravel the whole thing, it would measure over eleven feet in length! Tenor voices sound through the trombone section of the brass family. There are many types of trombone: slide trombone (which is most common), valve trombone, tenor trombone, and bass trombone. The typical trombone used is the tenor slide trombone. It has a nine-foot-long slide to change its notes. The tuba is the bass voice of the brass family. It usually plays the rhythm part along with the string familyâ€™s double bass.
The Percussion Family The family with the most instruments is the percussion family, with everything from cymbals, tambourines, and xylophones to gongs, triangles, drums and bells. Every percussion instrument has its own unique sound, and no two instruments sound alike. Believe it or not, percussion instruments are actually melodic instruments, even though most of them are not tuned to a specific note.
The snare drum is the smallest of the concert percussion. Underneath the drum is a belt of metal snares that, when the drum is struck, rattle against the bottom of the drum to produce its distinctive sound. The tenor drums, or tom-toms, are a set of two to four pitched drums and are used in conjunction with the snare drum to give the drum line a more melodic part. The timpani, or kettle drums, are very lowsounding drums, two to four or more in number. They look like big copper bowls, and have drum heads stretched across them for the percussionist to strike to make the sound. Timpani have pedals beneath them that stretch or slacken the drum head to make the sound lower or higher. They are used either to build suspense or announce triumphant moments. The bass drum can be the loudest and lowest instrument, but it can also be used quietly to build suspense. Unlike the other drums, the bass drum is positioned vertically in an upright manner. Sometimes this drum is used to give the effect of a cannon.
Special Visitors There are some orchestra instruments that, while falling within the categories above, are unlike the instruments mentioned because they are infrequent visitors to the opera orchestra pit. The piano is considered a percussion instrument because hammers strike the strings that make the sound of the piano. The keyboard has 88 keys, and there are various sizes of piano, from upright pianos to concert pianos that range from 5 1/2 to 9 feet long. The harp is often associated with heaven or dreams, and the player plucks the strings with his or her fingers. The harp may have originated in the sound from plucking a hunter's bow string. The oldest documented references to the harp are from 4000 B.C.E in Egypt. The standard harp has 46 or 47 strings producing a range of six and a half octaves. We often think of the saxophone as being primarily a jazz instrument, but it is used in opera, too. The sax is a bit like a clarinet, because it has a reed strapped to a mouthpiece, but it is made of metal. It is also made in a variety of higher and lower registers, from the high soprano saxophone to the low bass saxophone.
In the Pit
The Rehearsal Process
Have you ever wondered why the instruments are positioned in the pit they way they are? One reason is practical; communication is of key importance. The Conductor is placed front and center so he can see everything that is going on at all times both in the pit and onstage. He stands on the podium so that all the musicians can see him.
The full orchestra generally has six rehearsals before opening night. Before the first full orchestra practice or “reading” of the score, the orchestra musicians will have received copies of their parts to rehearse at home. Music Director Corrado Rovaris likes to meet with the string section principals to rehearse the score with them when he is conducting an opera here. The principal reading is the perfect way for the maestro to get across his ideas to the section leaders, who can then help him communicate these to the members of their respective sections.
Not only is the conductor communicating with the musicians, but the musicians in the pit are communicating with each other. The section principal, or leader, sits in the first chair. It is the principal’s responsibility to work out specific ways to play musical phrases so that everyone in the section plays it the same way. They also play any solo for their instrument that is in the score. Section principals also have to communicate with each other and must be positioned in the pit so that they not only see the conductor well, but can make eye contact with the other principals. Another reason is that softer instruments, like the violins and violas, are placed in the front so that their sound can travel into the house more freely. The louder instruments are placed more towards the back underneath the overhang so that they balance better with the entire orchestra and with the singers onstage. You’ll also notice that there are twice as many string instruments as there are brass and woodwind instruments because the brass and woodwind families tend to be more powerful instruments than their string cousins.
Then the full orchestra meets three times to read through the score. The maestro will sometimes rehearse sections of the score rather than running the entire opera at each rehearsal. This enables him or her to fine tune the musical interpretation of the opera. The cast joins the orchestra for the Sitzprobe, a German word that means “sitting rehearsal.” The musicians will be in the pit while the soloists sit on the stage and sing through the entire opera without doing their blocking. This gives the conductor the chance to hear where the orchestra may be too loud, and gives the singers and orchestra their first chance to hear each other. The final two rehearsals are full dress rehearsals. The artists run through the entire opera as if it were a performance. These rehearsals are the final times that the cast and full orchestra will meet before opening night. The last dress rehearsal is also special as students enrolled in the Sounds of Learning™ program attend this rehearsal, free of charge. Portions of this article provided by San Francisco Opera Guild.
The Art of Building
Costumes and Character Many people wear special costumes for their work. Name a few of these special workers. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ There are also times in our lives when we wear a special costume. Name a few of them. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ The clothing a person wears tells a story all of its own. Our clothes can show if we are poor or wealthy. Our clothes can also show what type of work we do. When we see someone coming towards us on the street, we say that we size them up. This means that we make judgments about them based upon their appearance. Almost everyone makes this type of prejudicial judgment; however, this information can only tell us a part of the person’s story. There are some people who wear rich clothes acquired through a life of crime while there are other people we might see in our neighborhood who are poorly dressed and are humble, honest, caring, and hard-working individuals. Which person would you trust with your possessions or life? Use the space below to explain why. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ In reality, clothes do not make the man or the woman. It is the individual’s character which wins them the respect and confidence of those they meet. If we determine who we think we are on what it is that we wear, we will be shallow people with little strength in dealing with the demands of life and the requirements of building loving relationships. Life is not about creating illusions, as the story The Emperor’s New Clothes pointed out. Life is about struggling and building a character which will show who we really are. A wise person once said that we should not put our pride in things which will wear out but in things which will last forever. Doing your homework is one way to start developing your character, for it builds a true treasure of which you can be proud: your mind. Every story we see shown on TV or in a movie has had a costume designer choose the clothing to be worn by the characters. This is an important job because the clothing the actors wear tells a part of the story and can set the mood of a scene. The costume designer helps to build the illusion which the story requires if the viewer is to believe it. Which character in our opera would be most changed if his or her costume were radically changed? Which character is your favorite? Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Active Learning for Home and School After you read the libretto, build a hand puppet based upon your favorite character. Design the costume which your character would wear in the opera. Ask your classmates which character they like most. If a few of you create different characters from the opera, possibly you can put on a puppet show on the opera’s ending for younger students. How would you change your opera? (Use additional paper if needed.)
Careers in the Arts
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in the performing arts? There are all sorts of jobs onstage, backstage, and everywhere else, too. Not everyone who works for the Opera Company of Philadelphia works on the stage. Here’s a sampling of what some the people employed by the Company do in their day to day jobs to bring an opera to the stage.
The Artistic Team The Artistic Team creates everything you will see on stage. They spend hours studying the music, the libretto, and the opera’s historic context. It helps if they speak the language in which the opera is written. After their research is done, they ask themselves what the composer and librettist are saying about these characters and the subject to create a vision of how they will bring the opera to life. The Conductor is responsible for the interpretation of the music. He (or she) is respectfully referred to as Maestro, which in Italian means master or teacher. The conductor must be a very skilled musician. The Maestro works with the orchestra and the singers to interpret the music. Based on the composer’s instructions, he determines tempo, dynamics, and the musical expression of the opera. He leads the orchestra during the performance, coordinating what is happening onstage with what is happening in the orchestra pit. It is important that the singers and the musicians watch the conductor at all times. The Director ultimately brings to life what will be assembled onstage. After the director has studied the music, text, historical context, and any materials like books, plays or historical figures on which the opera might be based, he (or she) then turns to the designers and together they arrive at a concept. When rehearsals begin, the director helps bring the concept to life through the characters of the opera: how they move, how they behave, why they behave the way they do, how they interact with one another and the environment of the opera.
Costume Director Richard St. Clair puts the finishing touches on tenor Mark Panuccio’s costume for Verdi’s Falstaff.
The Scenic Designer must have the vision and creativity of a visual artist and a knowledge and sense of theater. It is this person’s responsibility to create the surroundings in which the characters exist. The design of the scenery directly controls and influences the total visual effect of the opera. The scenic designer must work very closely with the rest of the creative team to devise a set that allows the production concept to be achieved and enhances the work of the performers, director and the other designers. The Lighting Designer uses light to reveal form, and create mood, balance and focus. Light becomes a strong factor in the visual effect of design through the control of intensity, color and distribution. A lighting designer is responsible not only for the general stage lighting but also for special effects such as lightning or explosions. Lighting effects and instruments are controlled by a computer, so the lighting designer must know how to use and program lighting software and be an expert in the principals of electricity and design.
A Costume Designer is an essential part of the total visual effect. He or she must contribute to the concept by deciding how characters will look by what they are wearing. The costume gives us instant information about the characters in the opera. Are they young or old, rich or poor? The clothes have to be historically accurate, too. Opera often has lavish and elaborate costumes with many pieces to them. Often because of cost, an opera company may rent a complete set of costumes to fit the particular production. The Wigs and Make-up Artists use the face and hair as a palette. They can alter the physical characteristics of a person – sometimes by making people appear younger or older than they are. They are responsible for making the artists’ faces and hair look like the characters they are portraying.
The Assistant Director assists the director by writing down the stage blocking into a piano/vocal score. He or she must be able to keep track of the director’s instructions to hundreds of people onstage: why they move, where they move, and at what particular time in the music.
The Assistant Conductor plays the piano as a substitute for the orchestra during staging and music rehearsals. Obviously, this person must be an excellent pianist and be very familiar with the opera score. The Assistant follows the conductor’s direction and must have a lot of stamina, because the rehearsals are sometimes long and tiring. The Assistant Conductor will also conduct off stage musicians and take notes for the conductor.
The Production Team While the artistic team creates, the production team implements the decisions that are made by the artistic team. Each person has an area of responsibility to oversee. These people are detail oriented and have excellent communication skills to work as a team to accomplish the goals of the production. The Production Manager schedules rehearsal time for the orchestra, chorus, principal singers, and technicians, and makes arrangements for the arrival of production staff, sets and costumes. He or she oversees the construction of new sets as well as supervising the stagehands at the theater. The Chorus Master prepares the chorus musically. The chorus is the first of all the singers to begin rehearsal. Since most operas are sung in a foreign language, singers who do not speak the language must learn the words phonetically and memorize what they mean.
Production Manager Greg Prioleau reviews a set model for an upcoming production.
The Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Managers ensure the rehearsal and performances run smoothly. They keep track of the “who, what, where, and when” of the production. Who enters or exits, with what prop, wearing what costume, and when in the music. They cue the various stage technicians to change the set, lights, and where the props are needed. They follow the score and give a “Stand By” and a “Go.” Stage Managers are timekeepers and the problem eliminators.
Chorus Master Liz Braden is ready to go during rehearsal.
Administrative Staff 60
Without the administration there wouldnâ€™t be an opera. These people constitute the company that produces opera. They are the business people and the office workers. After all, opera is show business. The Board of Directors is a volunteer group of men and women in the community who represent the contributors to the opera and help set policies.
The General and Artistic Director is responsible for planning all aspects of an opera production from choosing which operas to perform, which singers will be cast in the roles, designs for a production and the production team to be hired. He is also involved in crafting the Company budget and represents the Company in all contract negotiations with artists and all unions. The Music Director is the principal conductor of the Opera Companyâ€™s orchestra. It is his responsibility to improve the quality of the orchestra, hire new orchestra members, recommend conductors for the operas which he is not conducting and make casting and repertoire recommendations to the General and Artistic Director, and work out any cuts in the music. The Managing Director is hired by the board of directors and is responsible for all of the business aspects of an opera company from Marketing and Public Relations, to Fund Raising and Education. The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for managing the budget, preparing tax statements, and making sure that everyone gets paid. The Director of Development raises money to help fund the running of the Company. Ticket sales pay for less than half of the cost of producing opera.
Artistic Coordinator Laurie Rogers gets to make music every day as she studies the score of Humperdinckâ€™s Hansel and Gretel.
The Director of Marketing and Communications oversees all promotional and ticket sales campaigns and maintains contact with press locally and from all over the world. The Director of Community Programs coordinates all aspects of educational and outreach programs for students and adults, and with community organizations. The Artistic Coordinator is the conduit from administration and to artist managers, artists, and music staff. He or she makes sure that artistic details are in place for each production and helps to plan future seasons.
Careers in the Arts: A Sampling Accompanist Actor/Actress Advertising Director Announcer Architect Architectural Model Builder Artist Artistic Director Art Festival Coordinator Art Teacher Arts Administrator Arts Consultant Arts Ed. Curriculum Writer Audio Engineer (recording) Band Director Book Designer Book Illuminator Box Office Director Business Manager Casting Director Choir Director Choreographer Cinematographer Clothing Designer Comedian Commercial Artist Composer Computer Graphics Design Concert Singer Conductor Contract Specialist
Copyright Specialist Costume Buyer Costume and Mask Designer Creative Consultant Critic Cutter (costumes) Dancer Dialect Coach Dramaturg Draper (costumes) Dresser (theater) Extra (background actor) Fashion Designer First Hand (seamstress) Fundraiser (Development) Furniture Designer House Manager (theater) Illustrator (fashion, book, etc.) Instrumentalist Librettist Lighting Designer Makeup Artist Manager (arts organizations) Master Electrician (stage) Model Builder Mold Maker Music Contractor Music Copyist and Transcriber Music Editor Music Librarian Music Teacher
Musician Musicologist Orchestrator Painter Producer (theater, TV, movies) Proofreader (music) Props Buyer Props Designer Public Relations Specialist Publicist Publisher Scene Painter Scenic Designer Sculptor Set Decorator Set Dresser Shop Foreman (stage) Singer Special Effects Coordinator Stage Carpenter Stage Director Stage Hand Stage Manager Stitcher (costumes) Stunt Coordinator Theater Director Ticketing Agent TV Camera Operator Vocalist Wardrobe Mistress Wigmaker
Active Learning What career would you consider interesting? Where do you think you could go to learn more about it? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Italian word for war.
Name of Norma’s confidant who is also a temple priestess.
A substance that burns with a pleasant odor, often used as a ritual offering.
Name of the Druid priestess who is the head of the temple.
Inclined to believe in magic or illogical events.
A god or goddess.
Temple priest and Norma’s father.
Highest type of female voice.
First name of Norma’s composer.
A ceremonial or religious act.
Norma’s Roman warrior who is in love with Adalgisa.
Plant that was venerated by the Druids.
Name of soprano singing the title role in this opera.
To abuse the sacredness of.
An order having the force of law.
A woman who officiates in sacred rites.
School of composing used by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti.
Last name of Norma’s composer.
A pile of combustibles, often used for burning a corpse.
The priest or other transmitter of prophecies at a shrine.
Set apart as being holy.
To reveal the will of God; to predict.
A place devoted to religious seclusion.
Strict or severe.
Pre-christian priest among the Celts of ancient Gaul, Britain, and Ireland.
Norma Discussion Questions Review the discussion items below. Choose three questions to discuss with your classmates or at home with your parents. Write your answers on a separate piece of paper. Make sure to support your point of view.
1. How does composer Vincenzo Bellini heighten the drama of the opera through the music? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Why do you think that Norma fell in love with Pollione, a Roman and an enemy of the Celtic people? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Why do you think Norma chose to violate her Druid vows through her relationship with Pollione which resulted in two children with him? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. As she was forbidden to have children through her vows as a priestess, how do you think Norma hid her pregnancy and the children once they were born? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Because she violated her vows, do you think it was appropriate for Norma to continue as the chief priestess and why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6. How you think that Norma’s affair with Pollione positively and negatively affected her ability to govern her clan? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. How does the Adalgisa’s relationship with Pollione affect her relationship with Norma? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
8. Why do you think that Pollione sacrifices himself in the funeral pyre: out of duty or because he truly loves Norma? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
9. What do you think happens to Adalgisa and Norma’s children after the opera is over? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
10. Norma is the leader of her clan. Can you think of other women who lead their cultures or governments? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
11. What qualities does Norma share with these historical women: Joan of Arc, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Evita Perón, and Hilary Clinton. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sounds of Learning in the Classroom TM
Now that you’ve completed reading the Norma libretto, let’s see if you can answer some of these questions that may come up in your classroom or in everyday conversation.
1. Norma pulls the sickle ________ the branch to cut a
9. Norma furiously summons her people to vengefully war
mistletoe branch for the prayer to the goddess. a. cross b. across c. acrossed
against the Romans and Pollione, _______ is the father of her children. a. whom b. who c. maybe
2. Norma is afraid that her people will discover her relationship with Pollione, saying, “________ my secret will remain unknown.” a. Hopefully, b. I hope c. Not,
3. Norma is unaware of the romance ________ the priestess Adalgisa and the Roman soldier Pollione. a. between b. among c. betwixt
4. Adalgisa secretly tells Norma, “Between you and _____, I am in love with Pollione!” a. us b. I c. me
10. In the question above, the phrase “to vengefully war” is an example of: a. an adverb clause b. a split infinitive c. an independent clause
11. Norma angrily struck the temple shield and ________ the mallet to the ground. a. threw b. thorough c. through
12. In the question above, “threw” is an example of a: a. proverb b. intransitive verb c. transitive verb 13. The shield's clang created quite a cacophony as Norma
5. Adalgisa ________________ married Pollione, if he had not previously been involved with Norma. a. could of b. would of c. would have
calls for war. “Clang” is an example of: a. hemiola b. onomatopoeia c. alliteration
14. In the sentence above, “clang created quite a cacophony” 6. Norma is shocked to discover that Pollione has been involved with Adalgisa, ________. a. too b. to c. two
7. Norma wants revenge ________ Pollione and plans to kill their children to prevent them from becoming slaves. a. of b. around c. against
is an example of: a. hemiola b. onomatopoeia c. alliteration
15. The funeral pyre burned so brightly that the heat from _____ flames were searing. a. your b. it’s c. its
8. Unable to bring herself to hurt her children, Norma _______ the dagger on the table. a. lies b. lays c. lain
Answers: 1) b; 2) b; 3) a; 4) c; 5) c; 6) a; 7) c; 8) b; 9) b; 10) b; 11) a; 12) c; 13) b; 14) c; 15) c
Conflicts and Loves in Norma Draw a picture of Norma in the middle circle. In the outer circles, draw a picture of those individuals with whom Norma has a direct relationship. Then in the boxes pointing toward the middle circle, write how that individual feels about the central character. In the boxes pointing to the outer circles, write how Norma feels about that individual.
Poetic Styles and Norma
Write poems based on Norma. Focus on the emotional nature of the story to build depth to your words. Try to use some of the ideas found in the various lessons in this book when writing your poem.
HAIKU: Haiku is a form of Japanese verse which has three unrhymed lines containing 17 syllables: Line 1 = 5 syllables
Line 2 = 7 syllables
Line 3 = 5 syllables
CINQUAIN: A cinquain is a five-line poem with the following form: Line 1 = Noun
Line 2 = Two adjectives
Line 3 = Three verbs
Line 4 = A four word descriptive phrase
Line 5 = Synonym for the noun in Line 1
DIAMANTE: A diamante is a diamond-shaped poem concerning opposites in the following form: Line 1 = Noun
Line 2 = Two adjectives
Line 3 = Three verbs ending in -ing
Line 4 = Four nouns
Line 5 = Three verbs ending in -ing
Line 6 = Two adjectives
Line 7 = Synonym for the noun in Line 1
TANKA: A tanka is an oriental verse with a total of five lines with the following patterns: Line 1 = 5 syllables
Line 2 = 7 syllables
Line 3 = 5 syllables
Line 4 = 7 syllables
Line 5 = 7 syllables
Norma: Props and People
Property is something that belongs to you. In theater, a property, or a prop, is an object necessary for the play, opera or television show. Here is a list of props used in Norma:
1. Tapestries 2. Torches and torchieres 3. Dagger
4. Pyre 5. Serving Table 6. Rugs
7. Mistletoe 8. Sickle 9. Gong
Props accent the development of the storyâ€™s drama. Props not only make up the costumes of certain characters, they highlight the role the character plays in the drama. Props punctuate the plot and often serve as connectors through which the action flows. Removing simply one prop from a play can alter its outcome. What would have happened to Helen of Troy if the Trojans did not have their wooden horse? In some cases, the setting determines the type of props used in a drama. Choose the most important prop from the list above. Then write why they are important to the story. Explain how the story could be changed if they were missing or changed. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Some people use props to impress others of their success or importance. Other people use props to hide their insecurities. Explain how you have witnessed individuals using props in society. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Use additional paper if needed.)
Bellini’s Norma: Contemporary Literature The 19th century in Italy was a time of major political and social unrest. When Bellini’s opera Norma opened in 1837, Italy was already in the midst of becoming its own nation and shaking off the forces of foreign control. These themes echo strongly in Bellini’s opera, but can also be found in some major works of fiction and poetry of the age. Many authors were concerned with depicting an Italy that was their own; a place of unique beauty and true love. Other writers struggled with what independence truly meant, and searched to find identity in the middle of a complicated political world. This led to two major movements in literature, Romanticism and Realism, which would continue to flourish throughout the Risorgimento and beyond. The result is a body of literature that combines age-old ideas about love and family with newer concepts of statehood and allegiance. One of the greatest works of Italian fiction was produced during this period, authored by Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873). The Betrothed (“I promessi sposi”, 1825) is considered the first modern Italian novel, and it follows a pair of young lovers from the Lombardy region of Italy in 1620. Their Spanish ruler, who wishes to take the young girl for his wife, cruelly separates the two and they flee in order to remain together. Just as Norma struggles with the pain of her religious duty and the power of her love, the young characters encounter corrupt priests and nuns who try to thwart their happiness. The story weaves together complex ideas of faith and true love while examining the early 17th century through the lens of Italy’s changing political sphere during the Risorgimento. Political ambitions in the formation of Italy as an independent state often took the form of Romanticism, especially in the work of Italian poets. As Italy emerged as a unified and unique nation, poets contemplated the natural beauty of their land. One of the finest poets of this period, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) wrote early works in a style that was reminiscent of Greek naturalism. A return to ancient styles was a celebration of Italy’s past, and Leopardi excelled at this form. Leopardi’s works became increasingly pessimistic as his career continued, but no less beautiful in their imagery. One work “L’infinitivo” (The Infinite) captures both the beauty of the land, and the loneliness of the author. Many parallels can be drawn between the images in this poem and Norma’s arias of despair and longing.
Noted Italian writer, Alessandro Monzoni, famous for the novel I promesi sposi.
While Romanticism subjectively looked at local stories and characters with a kind of nostalgic optimism, Realism often depicted characters as flawed and complicated. The Realist movement in Italy followed Romanticism, and Giovanni Verga (1840-1922) was one of its most talented authors. Verga wrote a number of short stories which, though not initially popular throughout Italy, later gained credibility through translations into English by D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930). One of these short stories, Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry, 1884) went on to become one of Italy’s most famous operas (with a score by Pietro Mascagni). In this work, Verga highlights the complexity of peasant life in Sicily, and depicts characters that possess wisdom and bravery that far exceed their humble backgrounds. Like Norma, the story centers on a love triangle, where the characters’ passions and duties are at odds. Italian literature during the second half of the 19th century features many themes and character types that have parallels in Bellini’s great opera. The effects of the political movement known as the Risorgimento are felt throughout works of fiction from the time, and the movements of Romanticism and Realism emerged as both a reaction to, and a foil for, these intense feelings.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce an opera? In this exercise, you’re the boss. You’ll want to break up into teams to complete the tasks at hand: creating your own opera! Remember to have fun with this. It can be as long and as short as you want it to be.
Produce Your Own Opera! Office Administration Fees $220,000 These fees include salaries and benefits for a staff of 30, and office rental and utility fees. Orchestra Fees $225,000 Conductor’s salary, orchestra of 60 players, scores for 60 players, salary for Music Librarian.
Scenario: The Opera Company of Philadelphia is producing a fictitious Dracula-themed opera called Renfield’s Revenge by the fictitious composer Ephraim von Streimenhoffer. The Company must decide whether it is going to build its own production or rent a production, decide on several casting and orchestra issues, and decide whether it will rent or build its own costumes.
Chorus Fees $125,000 Chorus of 45 singers, Chorus Master salary, Rehearsal accompanist. Children’s Chorus
Supernumerary Fees $1,500 “Supers” receive $10 for every performance and every rehearsal they attend.
The Characters include: Melisma, a soprano prima donna, enamored of Canon $10,000-$6,500 per performance Kantata, her mezzo-soprano confidante/maid $7,500-$4,000 per performance
Production Salary Costs $45,000 This includes salaries for Director, Stage Manager, 2 Assistant Stage Managers, and one month’s housing for the Stage Director.
Adjustable Costs: Canon, an heroic vampire-slayer tenor extraordinaire $12,000-$8,500 per performance Renfield, a crazy madman tenor that eats bugs $10,000-$6,500 per performance Nosferatu, a villainous vampire-baritone $10,000-$6,500 per performance
Singers: Depending upon the chosen cast, you will have three options as to what your final costs will be. The most expensive cast has the most popular singers. The least expensive cast is not as popular, but the singers are very good younger singers. The middle cast option contains some popular singers and some up and coming singers. Remember, there are 6 performances!
Cantus Firmus, pious penitent bass with a penchant for packing garlic $7,500-$4,000 per performance
Cast A = Cast B = Cast C =
A chorus of 45 singers, a children’s chorus of 20, 10 supernumeraries or extras.
Set: The Company needs to decide if it should build
Fixed Costs: Academy of Music Rental Fee $250,000 The Opera Company of Philadelphia has to rent space in which to perform. As a renter, the Opera Company is considered a tenant of the Academy of Music, just as if you rent an apartment, you are considered a tenant of the apartment building. This fee included space rental fees, usher fees and stage hand fees.
$57,000 per performance $52,000 per performance $36,000 per performance
its own set or rent it. There are a couple of options for both criteria: OCP-Built Set #1: Opulent, very detailed and will need extra union laborers to complete on time. $200,000 #2: Scaled down version of first option, with less expensive materials to create. $100,000 #3: Technology-based design concept that uses cutting-edge production technology. $150,000
Rented Set #1: A bit large for the stage of the Academy and it will be a tight fit – it has stunning sets, however. $45,000
After you’ve figured out a budget, here some other things that you will need to do:
#2: Set is a bit small for the Academy stage, but it is a fairy-tale style production hat audience members $45,000 will enjoy.
Costumes: #1: Throwing caution to the wind, these OCP-built costumes are elegant and imaginative. $150,000 #2: A bit scaled back in concept from option 1, these costumes look wonderful onstage and will still be crowd-pleasing. $100,000 #3: These costumes are rented and will enhance the look of the opera. $70,000 #4: This option contains some rented costumes and some built by OCP. $85,000
Optional: Additional Orchestra Rehearsal
Additional Dress Rehearsal
1. Write your own plot – you can’t have an opera without a. You may need to do some research on vampire themes and about Transylvania: What is Transylvania like? What are vampire bats and what are their characteristics? Would you be seriously hurt if you were bitten by a bat? b. In what era will you set the opera? Modern times? Medieval times? The future? c. What is the arc of the story, its beginning middle and end? d. What is Renfield’s Revenge? Why is he vengeful? e. How many acts will it have? f. Write an aria or monologue for Melisma, Canon, and Nosferatu. his should consist of 10-20 lines of dialogue in which these characters express their emotions about someone or something and a plan of action.
2. Design sets and costumes for the opera. a. Use this as an art project with your class or at home.
Active Learning While a lot of negotiations take place among the General Director, Music Director, Production Department, Stage Directors, and the like, it ultimately comes down to managing money. Each season a specific amount of money is set aside for each of the operas we produce. But there are a lot of elements that come into play when deciding how to spend that money. For this exercise you’ll be given $1,000,000 to stage an opera, which is the average cost it takes to put together one production. You’ll be given some fixed costs that are not negotiable and have to be paid. Then there are some other costs that you’ll be able to decide upon when it comes time to pay the bill. You cannot go over $1,000,000. If you go over $1,000,000, you lose. If you stay under $1,000,000, you receive 10 points for every $1,000 you save. Remember, you need to create the best possible production. The better the production is overall, the happier the audience will be. The happier the audience is, the more inclined they will be to renew their subscription and donate to the Company.
b. You can do this on sketching paper, on a computer, or maybe as a collage with images taken from magazines.
Questions: How did you come up with your final budget? What was the most important aspect of the production for your group – singers? Sets and costumes? What was the most difficult choice for you to make? Did you include any of the optional additions to the project? If so, did you include the option rather than using more expensive singers or stage design? What percentage of the $1,250,000 is designated for Academy of Music rental fees? If the Supernumerary budget is $1,500 and there are 10 Supernumeraries and 6 performances, how many rehearsals did the 10 supers attend?
The Italian-English Connection
The English language is influenced by many languages, including Italian. We find many Italian words in the English language, like gondola, fresco, vendetta, broccoli, volcano, basilica, stucco, and inferno. Look through the Italian portions of the libretto. You might be able to spot some Italian words that look a lot like English words because both have the same Latin or Greek origin. They are called cognates. Some Italian-English cognates include:
Look at the list of English words below and see if you can match the English word to the Italian word highlighted in the text from the Norma’s famous aria “Casta Diva”.
Casta Diva Casta Diva, che inargenti queste sacre antiche piante, a noi volgi il bel sembiante senza nube e senza vel.
Chaste goddess, who dost bathe in silver these ancient, hallowed trees, turn thy fair face upon us, unveiled and unclouded.
Tempra, o Diva, tempra tu de’ cori ardenti, tempra ancora Io zelo audace, spargi in terra quella pace che regnar tu fai nel ciel.
Temper thou the burning hearts, the excessive zeal of thy people. Enfold the earth in that sweet peace which, through thee, reigns in Heaven.
Vincenzo Bellini was born in Italy and Italian was his primary language. Below you will find a few words in Italian that you could use in daily situations. In the next column are words used in the opera Norma. In the lower half of the page are simple phrases that you could practice with a friend.
Single words Ciao (chow) Piacere (pyah-cheh-reh) Buon giorno (bwoo-ohn gyohr-noh) Buona sera (bwoo-ohnah see-rah) Mamma (madre) (mahm-mah) Papà (padre) (pah-pah) Sorella (soh-rayl-lah) Fratello (frah-tehl-loh)
Words from Norma Hi, Bye Nice to meet you Good morning Good afternoon Mom (mother) Dad (father) Sister Brother
palazzo (pah-laht-soh) condottier (cohn-doht-teeair) diva (dee-vah) guerra (gwooehr-rah) militare (mee-lee-tah-ray) dolore (doh-loh-ray) traditor (trah-dee-tohr) matrimonio (mah-tree-moh-neeoh) messaggero (mehs-sahg-geh-roh)
palace commander goddess war soldier sorrow traitor marriage messenger
Sentences Come ti chiami? (coh-meh tee keyah-mee)
What is your name?
Mi chiamo Giuseppe. (mee keyah-moh)
My name is Giuseppe.
Come stai? (coh-meh stahee)
How are you?
Sto bene grazie. (stoh bay-neh graht-seeeh)
I am well thank you.
Quanti anni hai? (kwahn-tee ahn-nee ah-ee)
How old are you?
Ho dieci, undici, dodici, tredici anni. (Oh dyay-chee, oon-dee-chee, doh-dee-chee, treh-dee-chee ahn-nee)
I am ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen years old
Da dove vieni? (dah doh-veh vyay-nee)
Where are you from?
Vengo dagli Stati Uniti. (vayn-goh dah-llyi stah-tee oo-nee-tee)
I am from the United States.
Dove sei nato? (doh-veh sayee nah-toh)
Where were you born?
Sono nato a Philadelphia. (soh-noh nah-toh ah)
I was born in Philadelphia.
Che ora è? (kay ohr-ah eh)
What time is it?
Sono le otto del mattino. (soh-noh lay oht-toh dayl maht-tee-noh)
It is eight o’clock in the morning.
Io ho gli occhi verdi. (ee-oh oh llyee ohk-kee vayr-dee)
I have green eyes.
Tu hai gli occhi blu. (too ah-ee llyee ohk-kee bloo)
You have blue eyes.
Anna ha i capelli ricci. (Ahn-nah ah ee kah-pehl-lee ree-chee)
Anna has curly hair.
I capelli di Piero sono lisci. (ee kah-payl-lee dee Pyeh-roh soh-noh lee-shee)
Piero’s hair is straight
Ti piace cantare? (tee pyah-chay kahn-tah-ray)
Do you like singing?
Ti diverte recitare? (tee dee-vayr-tay ray-chee-tah-ray)
Do you enjoy acting?
A pronunciation guide for this lesson and for the names of the characters in the opera is provided at the end of the CD of musical excerpts.
2007-2008 Season Subscriptions
Review the charts of the Opera Company of Philadelphiaâ€™s performance season and prices. Then answer the questions below.
2007-2008 SEASON PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE SERIES Sun. One
Oct. 7, 2007
Oct. 14, 2007
Oct. 10, 2007
Oct. 17, 2007
Oct. 5, 2007
Oct. 2, 2007
Hansel and Gretel
Nov. 18, 2007
Nov. 25, 2007
Nov. 14, 2007
Nov. 14, 2007*
Nov. 16, 2007
Nov. 23, 2007
Feb. 10, 2008
Feb. 17, 2008
Feb. 13, 2008
Feb. 13, 2008*
Feb. 8, 2008
Feb. 15, 2008
Apr. 6, 2008
Apr. 13, 2008
Apr. 9, 2008
Apr. 16, 2008
Apr. 4, 2008
Apr.1 8, 2008
Curtain Times: Sunday Performances begin at 2:30 PM; Wednesday Performances begin at 7:30 PM; Friday Performances begin at 8:00 PM.
2007-2008 SEASON PRICE CHART SUBSCRIPTION PRICE
SINGLE TICKET PRICES
Parquet Box/Balcony Box
Parquet Floor front/sides
Parquet Circle/Balcony Circle
Family Circle Side
1. Cyrano will be performed on what day, date, and time in the Wednesday 2 Series? 2. If a new subscriber buys 4 subscriptions for the Friday Series in the Balcony Loge, what does he/she pay? 3. Which performance occurs closest to Thanksgiving? ____________________________________________________ 4. What sets of series have the same curtain time? 5. On Sundays, what is the cost of the subscription for a parquet or balcony box and of an individual ticket? 6. How much more does a person pay when buying single tickets to all the operas in the Parquet Floor section on Fridays than the person who buys a subscription in the parquet? What is the percentage of savings of a parquet subscription over four individual tickets?
Invest in Grand Opera!
Many adults have trouble understanding charts and graphs, which are used in daily life. Study the information and then see if you can answer the questions below. We want you to join our family of donors. In fact, we need you, as only 40% of our costs are met through ticket sales. Your contribution is critical to our success!
Champagne and wine are served with pastries donated from Termini Brothers.
Private reception at every opera in the Academy of Music Ballroom.
The Bravi Associates Lounge
What do you get for joining? Some benefits are listed below. Plus you will benefit by being a part of our success – knowing when the curtain goes up that you have made it possible. Your gift, at whatever level, is greatly appreciated.
$75 - $149 Contributor
$150 - $249 Supporter
$250 - $499 Sustainer
$500 - $749 Affiliate
$750 - $999 Fellow
$1,000 - $1,499 Partner
$1,500 - $2,499 Bronze
$2,500 - $4,999 Silver
$5,000 - $7,499 Gold
$7,500 - $9,999 Platinum
$10,000 - $24,999 Ruby
$25,000 - $49,999 Emerald
$50,000 - $74,999 Sapphire
$75,000 - $99,999 Diamond
Benefits of Giving 1. Special consideration when requesting subscription seating upgrades.
2. Opportunity to purchase and exchange tickets throughout
DONOR BENEFITS 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
13. Artists’ meet and greet receptions on the first day of rehearsal.
14. Performance dedication in your name with premier listing on the title page of the program.
15. Invitation to travel with Company Directors to other
3. Priority seating at pre-performance opera lectures 4. Private vocal recital. 5. Recognition of your gift in Playbill for one full year 6. “Tales from the Dressing Room” event with Costume
opera companies to hear singers.
Director Richard St. Clair.
7. Passes to a dress rehearsal (for a total of 4). 8. Bravi Associates Lounge privileges for one full year
How many benefits would you receive if you donated $10,000? What is your gift level? _____________________________________________ List the benefits of someone who is at the Gold gift level. _____________________________________________
during all opera intermissions
9. Opportunity to meet the artists of an opera at a special reception in their honor.
10. Director’s salon. 11. Private backstage tour for you and your guests. 12. Annual Patron Council dinner and recital.
Which giving level is the first to receive their name in the opera program book, Playbill? ______________________________________________ At which giving levels would you get a private backstage tour for you and your guests? ______________________________________________
Underlined words are used in the libretto and are underlined in the libretto as well. abyss (uh-bis) n. a deep, immeasurable space, gulf, or cavity; vast chasm. act (akt) n. one of the main divisions of a play or opera. adapt (uh-dapt) v. To adjust to a specified use or situation. allegro (uh-leg-roh) adv. musical term for fast and lively. alto (al-toh) n. the range of the female voice between mezzo-soprano and contralto. andante (ahn-dahn-tey) adv. a musical term meaning in moderately slow time. antagonist (an-tag-o-nist) n. an adversary or opponent of the main character or protagonist in an opera, play, or other drama. aria (ahr-ee-uh) n. an operatic song for one voice. austere (aw-steer) adj. strict or severe. balustrade (bal-uh-streyd) n. a row of short posts or pillars supporting a rail along a staircase or around a balcony. bar (bahr) n. a division of music containing a set number of beats. baritone (bar-i-tohn) n. the range of the male voice between tenor and bass. bass (beys) n. the lowest male singing voice. beat (beet) n. the basic pulse of a piece of music. blasphemous (blas-fuh-muhs) adj. impiously irreverent. cavalier (kav-uh-leer) n. 1. a gentleman accomplished in arms. 2. a gallant. 3. a ladyâ€™s dancing partner. celibacy (sel-uh-buh-see ) n. the condition of being unmarried, especially by reason of religious vows. chaste (cheyst) adj. morally pure. chord (kord) n. a group of notes played at the same time in harmony. chorus (kawr-uhs) n. 1. a group of singers. 2. a piece of music for these. chronological (kron-l-oj-i-kuhl) adj. a method of arrangement that puts phenomena in order of occurrence. cloister (kloi-ster) n. a place devoted to religious seclusion. contralto (uhn-tral-toh) n. the lowest female singing voice. decree (di-kree) n. an order having the force of law. deity (dee-i-tee) n. a god or goddess. desecrate (des-i-kreyt) v. to abuse the sacredness of. fidelity (fi-del-i-tee) n. 1. faithfulness; loyalty. 2. truthfulness; accuracy. flat (b) (flat) adj. a half-step lower than the corresponding note or key of natural pitch.
forte (f) (for-tay) adv. loudly. fortissimo (ff) (for-tis-i-moh) adv. a musical term for very loud. genesis (jen-uh-sis) n. a beginning; the origin or formation of something. girt (gurt) n. a heavy beam, as for supporting the ends of rafters. hallowed (hal-ohd) adj. set apart as being holy. heed (heed) v. to pay attention to. hymen (hahy-muhn) n. the ancient Greek god of marriage. incense (in-sens) n. a substance that burns with a pleasant odor, often used as a ritual offering. infinity (in-fin-i-tee) n. an endless number or extent or time or space. inherent (in-heer-uhnt) adj. an essential part or characteristic of something. key (kee) n. the basic note of the main scale used in a piece of music. In the key of G, for example, G is the fundamental note; the music often returns to it and comes to rest on it. largo (lahr-goh) adv. a musical term meaning in slow time and dignified style. libretto (li-bret-oh) n. the words of an opera or other long musical. liturgical (li-tur-ji-kuhl) adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of worship in the Christian church. major (may-jor) adj. music in a major key uses a major scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then another tone (for example, C, D, E). It often has a cheerful, strong sound. minor (mahy-ner) adj. Music in a minor key uses a minor scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then a semitone (for example A, B, C). It often has a sad, melancholic sound. murmur (mur-mer) v. to speak or utter in a low voice. myth (mith) n. a traditional story containing ideas or beliefs about ancient times or about natural events. natural (nach-er-uhl) adj. a note that is neither flattened nor sharpened. octave (ok-tiv) n. a note that sounds twice as high in pitch as another, is an octave above the other note, and has the same letter naming it. opera (op-er-uh) n. a play in which the words are sung to musical accompaniment. opus (oh-puhs) n. a musical composition numbered as one of a composerâ€™s works (usually in order of publication). oracle (awr-uh-kuhl) n. the priest or other transmitter of prophecies at a shrine. orchestra (awr-kuh-struh) n. a large body of people playing various musical instruments, including stringed and wind instruments. overture (oh-ver-cher) n. an orchestral composition forming a prelude to an opera or ballet. pianissimo (pp) (pee-uh-nis-uh-moh) adv. a musical term meaning very softly. piano (p) (pi-an-oh) 1. adv. a musical term meaning softly. 2. n. keyed percussion instrument first named pianoforte because it could play both softly and loudly. plot (plot) n. the sequence of events in an opera, story, novel, etc. prelude (prel-yood) n. an introductory movement preceeding a fugue or forming the first piece of a suite; a short piece of music of similar type.
presto (pres-toh) adv. a musical term meaning very fast.
prophesy (prof-uh-sahy) v. to reveal the will of God; to predict. protagonist (proh-tag-o-nist) n. the leading character in an opera, play, story, etc. proscenium (proh-see-nee-uhm) n. the part of the stage that remains exposed to the audience while the curtain is down. pyre (pahyuhr) n. a pile of combustibles, often for burning a corpse. recitative (res-i-tey-tiv) n. a narrative or conversational part of an opera, sung in a rhythm imitating that of ordinary speech. relevant (rel-uh-vuhnt) adj. related to the matter at hand; to the point. remorse (ri-mors) n. moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds; bitter regret. renounce (ri-nouns) v. to reject or give up. rite (rahyt) n. a ceremonial or religious act. salutation (sal-yuh-tey-shuhn) n. a word or words or gesture of greeting, an expression of respect. scale (skayl) n. a series of notes arranged in descending or ascending order of pitch. secular (sek-yuh-ler) adj. not having to do with religion or a religious body. semitone (sem-i-tohn) n. a half step or half tone, an interval midway between two whole tones. sharp (#) (shahrp) n. any note a semitone higher than another note. Also, slightly too high in pitch. significance (sig-nif-i-kuhns) n. the meaning or importance of a thing. somber (som-ber) adj. dark, gloomy, dismal. soprano (so-prah-noh) n. the highest female or boyâ€™s singing voice. stage (stayj) n. a platform on which an opera, play, dance or other public performances are given before an audience. staging (stay-jing) n. the presentation or production on the stage. summarize (suhm-uh-rahyz) v. to make a summary of; restate briefly. superstitious (soo-per-stish-uhs) adj. inclined to believe in magic or nonlogical events. symphony (sim-foh-nee) n. a long elaborate musical composition (usually in several parts) for a full orchestra. synopsis (si-nop-sis) n. a summary, a brief general survey. synthesize (sin-thuh-sahyz) v. to produce by combining separate materials. tenor (ten-or) n. the highest adult male singing voice. tone (tohn) n. 1. an interval equal to two semitones. 2. the sound quality of an instrument or voice. verbena (ver-bee-nuh) n. any of various plants of the genus Verbena, esp. any of several hybrid species cultivated for their showy flower clusters. verismo (vuh-riz-moh ) n. realism in opera. vulnerable (vuhl-ner-uh-buhl) adj. to be in a state of weakness, either physical or emotional. From Dictionary.com. Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, ÂŠ Random House, Inc. 2006.
Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards Pennsylvania’s public schools shall teach, challenge and support every student to realize his or her maximum potential and to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to: Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening 1.1. Learning to Read Independently GRADE 5 D. Identify the basic ideas and facts in text using strategies (e.g., prior knowledge, illustrations and headings) and information from other sources to make predictions about text. 1.1.8. GRADE 8 E. Expand a reading vocabulary by identifying and correctly using idioms and words with literal and figurative meanings. Use a dictionary or related reference. 1.1.11. GRADE 11 H. Demonstrate fluency and comprehension in reading. Read a variety of genres and types of text. Demonstrate comprehension. 1.2. Reading Critically in All Content Areas GRADES 5, 8, 11. A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas. 1.3. Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature GRADE 5 E. Analyze drama as information source, entertainment, persuasion or transmitter of culture. 1.3.8. GRADE 8 E. Analyze drama to determine the reasons for a character’s actions, taking into account the situation and basic motivation of the character. 1.3.11. GRADE 11 E. Analyze how a scriptwriter’s use of words creates tone and mood, and how choice of words advances the theme or purpose of the work. 1.4. Types of Writing GRADES 5, 8, 11. GRADE 5 A. Write poems, plays and multi-paragraph stories (GRADES 8 & 11 - and short stories). 1.4.5, 8, 11. C. Write persuasive pieces (Review of Opera Experience, p. 78). 1.5. Quality of Writing GRADES 5, 8, 11 A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus. 1.6. Speaking and Listening GRADES 5, 8, 11. B. Listen to selections of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction). C. Speak using skills appropriate to formal speech situations. E. Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations. F. Use media for learning purposes. 1.8. Research GRADES 5, 8, 11. A. Select and refine a topic for research. B. Locate information using appropriate sources and strategies. C. Organize, summarize and present the main ideas from research. Academic Standards for Mathematics 2.1. Numbers, Number Systems and Number Relationships 2.1.8. GRADE 8 A. Represent and use numbers in equivalent forms (e.g., integers, fractions, decimals, percents, exponents, scientific notation, square roots). 2.2. Computation and Estimation 2.2.5. GRADE 5 A. Create and solve word problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers. 2.5 Mathematical Problem Solving and Communication 2.5.11. GRADE 11 A. Select and use appropriate mathematical concepts and techniques from different areas of mathematics and apply them to solving non-routine and multi-step problems. Academic Standards for Science and Technology 3.1. Unifying Themes 3.1.10. GRADE 10 E. Describe patterns of change in nature, physical and man made systems. •Describe how fundamental science and technology concepts are used to solve practical problems (e. g., momentum, Newton’s laws of universal gravitation, tectonics, conservation of mass and energy, cell theory, theory of evolution, atomic theory, theory of relativity, Pasteur’s germ theory, relativity, heliocentric theory, gas laws, feedback systems). 3.2. Inquiry and Design GRADE 7 Apply process knowledge to make and interpret observations. GRADE 10 Apply process knowledge and organize scientific and technological phenomena in varied ways. GRADE 12 Evaluate experimental information for appropriateness and adherence to relevant science processes. 3.3. Biological Sciences 3.3.10. GRADE 10 D. Explain the mechanisms of the theory of evolution. 3.7. Technological Devices 3.7.7. GRADE 7 E. Explain basic computer communications systems. Describe the organization and functions of the basic parts that make up the World Wide Web. (Check operaphila.org to see photos of the rehearsals and sets.) See Teacher’s Guide for additional science lessons. Academic Standards for Civics and Government 5.2. Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship 5.2.12. GRADE 12 C. Interpret the causes of conflict in society and analyze techniques to resolve those conflicts. Academic Standards for Geography 7.1. Basic Geographic Literacy 7.1.6. GRADE 6 A. Describe geographic tools and their uses. •Basis on which maps, graphs and diagrams are created. 7.3. The Human Characteristics of Places and Regions 7.3.6. GRADE 6 B. Explain the human characteristics of places and regions by their cultural characteristics. Academic Standards for History 8.2. Pennsylvania History 8.2.9. GRADE 9 8.2.12. GRADE 12 Pennsylvania’s public schools shall teach, challenge and support every student... skills needed to analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political and social relations to. A. Analyze the... cultural contributions of individuals... to Pennsylvania history from 1787 to 1914. • Cultural and Commercial Leaders (e.g., Academy of Music architects Napoleon Le Brun & Gustav Rungé, opera star Marian Anderson). 8.3. U.S. History 8.3.9 GRADE 9 B. Identify and analyze primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history from 1787 to 1914. • Historic Places (e. g., Academy of Music). 8.4. World History 8.4.6 GRADE 6 A. Identify and explain how individuals and groups made significant political and cultural contributions to world history. 8.4.12. GRADE 12 C. Evaluate how continuity and change throughout history has impacted belief systems and religions since 1450 C.E. Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities 9.1. Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music,Theatre and Visual Arts A. Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities. I. Know where arts events, performances and exhibitions occur and how to gain admission. 9.2. Historical and Cultural Contexts C. Relate works in the arts to varying styles and genre and to the periods in which they were created (e.g., Renaissance, Classical, Modern, Post-Modern, Contemporary...). D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective. E. Analyze how historical events and culture impact forms, techniques and purposes of works in the arts. F. Know and apply appropriate vocabulary used between social studies and the arts and humanities.
State Standards Met
State Standards met in Norma Sounds of Learning™ Lessons:
Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera A Brief History of Western Opera Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Broad Street: Avenue of the Arts Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame Opera Etiquette 101 Why I Like Opera
1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,
1.2, 1.2, 7.1, 7.1, 1.2, 1.2,
1.3, 1.3, 7.3, 7.3, 1.3, 1.3,
7.3, 7.3, 8.2, 8.2, 9.1, 8.2,
8.4, 8.2, 9.1, 9.1, 9.2 9.1
9.2 8.3, 9.1, 9.2 9.2 9.2
1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,
1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2,
1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,
1.8, 1.5, 1.8, 1.5, 1.5, 1.5,
7.1, 5.2, 7.1, 5.2, 5.2, 5.2,
7.3, 7.1, 7.3, 7.1, 7.1, 7.1,
1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,
1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 9.2 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 9.2
1.3, 1.8, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,
7.1, 7.1, 1.5, 1.5, 9.1, 7.1,
7.3, 8.2, 8.2, 8.2, 9.2, 7.3,
9.1, 9.2, 13.1 8.3, 8.4, 9.2 8.4, 9.2 8.4, 9.2 13.1 8.2, 8.3, 9.2, 13.1
1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,
9.2 1.6, 1.8, 1.8, 1.5, 6.1, 1.4,
7.1, 3.1, 3.1, 3.2, 6.4, 1.5,
8.4, 3.2, 3.2, 9.1, 7.1, 1.6,
The Italian-English Connection Parli Italiano? 2007-2008 Season Subscriptions Invest in Grand Opera!
1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 3.7, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,
1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 5.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2,
1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 7.1, 1.3, 1.3, 2.1, 2.1,
5.2, 1.8, 1.6, 1.4, 6.1, 1.8, 1.6, 7.3, 1.6, 1.6, 2.2, 2.2,
8.4 2.1 1.8, 1.5, 6.4, 8.4, 1.8, 8.2, 1.8, 1.8, 2.5, 2.5,
9.2 1.8, 7.1, 9.2 2.1, 8.4, 9.2 9.2 6.1, 6.1,
Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection Who were the Druids? The Druid’s Sacred Mistletoe The Celts of Old Gaul at the Time of Norma Rites and Rituals Italy’s Ancient Roman Foundation
8.3, 8.4, 8.3, 8.3, 8.4, 8.4,
8.4, 9.2 9.2 8.4, 9.2 8.4, 9.2 9.2 9.2
Cyrano: Libretto and Production Information The Life of Vincenzo Bellini Events During Bellini’s Lifetime What is Bel Canto? Bellini’s Norma: Creating a Masterpiece Meet the Artists Introducing Soprano Christine Goerke Game: Connect the Opera Terms Norma Synopsis Norma LIBRETTO So You Want to Sing Like an Opera Singer The Highs and Lows of the Operatic Voice Into the Pit: The Opera Orchestra The Art of Building Costumes and Character Careers in the Arts Game: Norma Crossword Puzzle
9.2 9.1, 9.1, 9.2, 7.3, 1.8,
9.2 9.2 13.1 9.2 6.1, 6.4, 9.2
Lessons Norma Discussion Questions Sounds of Learning™ in the Classroom Conflicts and Loves in Norma Poetic Styles and Norma Norma Props and People Bellini’s Norma: Contemporary Literature Produce Your Own Opera!
9.1, 9.2 7.3, 9.2 2.2, 2.5, 3.1, 9.1, 9.2
Written and produced by:
Special thanks to:
Opera Company of Philadelphia Community Programs Department ÂŠ2008
Dr. Dennis W. Creedon
1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. 19102
Ann Antanavage Adele Betz Laura Jacoby Tullo Migliorini Laurie Rogers Rondaya Woodbury
Tel: (215) 893-3600, ext. 246 Fax: (215) 893-7801 www.operaphila.org/community Michael Bolton Director of Community Programs email@example.com
Creator, Sounds of Learning TM Curriculum Consultant
The Teachers of Our Children EMI Records Academy of Music Ushers
Barbara Mills Volunteer
Opera Company of Philadelphia
Rose Muravchick Consultant
Academy of Music
Shannon Walsh Assistant Operations Manager Academy of Music
Greg Buch Production Manager Academy of Music
Cornell Wood Head Usher Academy of Music
Debra Malinics Advertising Design
Kalnin Graphics Printing
Center City Film and Video R. A. Friedman The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Department
1420 Locust Street Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA 19102 T (215) 893-3600 F (215) 893-7801 www.operaphila.org
2007 October 5, 7m, 10, 12, 14m & 17
2007 November 14, 16, 18m, 23 & 25m
2008 February 8, 10m, 13, 15 & 17m
2008 March 14, 15 & 16
2008 April 4, 6m, 9, 13m, 16 & 18
* The Kimmel Center Presents Curtis Opera Theatreâ€™s production in association with Opera Company of Philadelphia