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The Italian, undisputed queen of opera, but not the only diva to walk the stage!
From Italian to Russian, from French to German. Let's discover the languages that have made the Opera great
Opera, despite being an intrinsically Italian art form, has over time found expression in a wide variety of languages. Although Italian holds a first-rate position in the operatic field, it is not the only language used.

The first operatic works were conceived in Italy between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century by prominent composers such as Monteverdi. Over the course of the Baroque period, opera spread throughout Italy, and Italian libretti also maintained their dominance into the later Classical era. The word "opera" itself underlines the original intention of uniting elements such as poetry, dance and music in a single art form. Over the years, Italian opera has seen important stylistic evolutions thanks to its predominant influence on the international scene. Italian composers of great caliber such as Puccini, Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini and Verdi have left an indelible mark on the history of opera.

Following the consecration of Italian opera, German composers began to experiment with this art form. The first opera in the German language was "Dafne", composed by Heinrich Schütz in 1627. Only towards the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, other German composers, such as Telemann and Handel, began to devote themselves to opera. At that time, many of them opted for the composition of works in foreign languages, mainly in Italian, then reputed to be the language of sophisticated aristocratic elegance. Operas in German were more commonly intended for a wider audience and featured melodies inspired by folk music. With the advent of Mozart in the late 18th century, German opera began to gain in popularity, paving the way for the likes of Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Wagner and Richard Strauss to be key figures in defining German opera .

In parallel with the development path of Italian and German opera, the French operatic tradition has had its own distinctive path. Lully, starting in the 1670s, played a prominent role in French opera, and his music influenced later composers such as Rameau, who helped keep the French opera tradition alive. This art form retained its uniqueness to Italian opera and enjoyed strong support in France throughout the 18th century and beyond.

The Russian operatic tradition, however, took hold in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to the pioneering efforts of composers such as Mikhail Glinka. Subsequently, composers such as Musorgsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov helped further develop the Russian operatic tradition. Throughout the 20th century, composers such as Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich enriched Russian opera with their innovative and daring works.

In addition to the Italian, German, French and Russian opera traditions, several other nations have left their unmistakable mark on the world opera scene, enriching its linguistic and stylistic heterogeneity.

In Spain, opera developed through composers such as Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz. Their music, which integrates elements of the Spanish folk tradition, has helped to create a unique genre that reflects the culture of their country.

Poland also has a significant operatic tradition. Composers such as Stanisław Moniuszko have written works in the Polish language, creating melodies that resonate with the depth of Polish culture and history.

In Hungary, composer Béla Bartók created original works in the Hungarian language. His works, among which the "Castello del duca Bluebeard" stands out, have contributed to enriching the operatic panorama with the addition of new expressive and instrumental forms.

As for Armenia, it has had its impact on opera thanks to composers like Aram Khachaturian. His works, such as “Spartaco” and “Gayane”, display a unique combination of Eastern and Western melodies, reflecting Armenia's cultural intersection.

Each country and each language adds something unique to the work. The sound of the English language, for example, has inspired great works such as those of Benjamin Britten and George Gershwin. The beauty of the Czech language is reflected in the works of Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák. In Asia, the tradition of Chinese and Japanese opera has given rise to equally fascinating and distinct art forms.

Opera, therefore, is a truly international art form, with every language and culture contributing to a rich mosaic of artistic expression. The Italian language may be the “queen” of opera, but each language has its role and importance, helping to create the extraordinary diversity of styles and voices that make opera such a fascinating and engaging art form. .

In the universe of opera, every language and culture occupies a place on stage, in an enchanting spectacle of diversity and universal connectedness. Although the Italian could be considered the "concert violinist" of this global orchestra, each of the other instruments has its own fundamental role in creating the overall symphony.

But in the end, we always remember that opera is like a love song to Italy which remains the undisputed queen of this extraordinary art form.

There is more

The history of opera begins with Jacopo Peri's Dafne in 1598, but it is with Monteverdi's L'Orfeo of 1607 that opera is affirmed. While music and dance were already present in plays from ancient Greece, the idea of an entirely sung drama developed later.
The first works took place in Florence, with the "intermediate” music that entertained the House of Medici. Peri's Dafne and Caccini's Euridice used recitative, a harmony that was placed between speech and song.
Monteverdi, inspired by Greek myths, wrote L'Orfeo in 1607, with more ambitious ideas. While Peri used modest tools, Monteverdi had a broader and more innovative vision. These early examples of opera laid the foundations for the future development of this musical genre.

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