Monday, May 12, 2014

Italian Comic Opera

On Friday we discussed serious opera during the early classical period. But what about operas with comic subjects? Unlike opera seria that extended beyond borders, comic opera was a bit different depending on the nation. Today we will look at a few of these forms found in Italy.

Opera buffa was the main form of comic opera found in Italy during the classical period. Unlike other nations, the opera was sung throughout with no spoken dialogue. It typically contained around six or more characters and took place during present day rather in historical times as in many opera serias.

Another form of comic opera found in Italy is known as an intermezzo. Intermezzos are two act comic operas performed in between the acts of an opera seria. They typically only contained two singing characters with one possible third character acting as a mute.

One example of an intermezzo is Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s La Serva padrona that you may remember from one of my January posts, sparked the Quarrel of the Comic Actors in France. Here is a clip:
Notice the simplicity of the recitative and accompaniment. What do you think? How does this compare to other operas we’ve looked at so far?

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