Theoretical material for self-study

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Opera “Orpheus and Eurydice” by K. Gluck. Rock opera “Orpheus and Eurydice” by A. B. Zhurbin

The list of questions considered on the topic:

– the embodiment of the plot of the ancient myth “Orpheus and Eurydice” in the work of various composers;

– K. Gluck’s opera “Orpheus and Eurydice”;

– rock opera by A. B. Zhurin “Orpheus and Eurydice”;

– distinctive features of opera and rock opera;

– Features of the music of the twentieth century.

A premiere is the first performance of a work, play or film.

Opera seria (Italian opera seria – serious opera) is a genre of Italian opera that arose at the end of the 17th century in the work of composers of the Neapolitan opera school and is based on a heroic-mythological or legendary-historical plot with a clear distribution of stage action and music.

Opera buffa is a comic opera based on everyday life.

An aria is a vocal part for one voice, like a complete episode or musical number.

Recitative is a kind of vocal music that approaches natural speech.

A rock opera is a musical stage work in which arias are performed in the traditions of rock music and jazz.

Theoretical material for self-study

Christoph Willibald Gluck was born in 1714 in Germany. From childhood, he studied music, and when his father spoke out against his son connecting his life with music, Christophe left home.

At first he lived in the Czech Republic in Prague, then in Austria, and by the will of fate ended up in the birthplace of opera – in Italy.

In the same place, in Italy, the premiere of the composer’s first opera took place. It was called Artaxerxes.

A premiere is the first performance of a work, play or film.

The listeners liked the opera, and over the next four years, Gluck wrote at least four more operas.

All of them belonged to the genre of opera seria (seria – from the word “serious”). This is one of the operatic genres that existed in Italy at that time. They were written on historical and mythological subjects. There was no through development in the opera, but there was an alternation of individual numbers.

Arias replaced recitatives, and singers competed in virtuosity.

An aria is a vocal part for one voice, like a complete episode or musical number.

Recitative is a kind of vocal music that approaches natural speech.

For about 10 years, Christoph Gluck toured Europe as a conductor in various theater companies.

In 1754 Gluck was appointed composer and conductor of the Vienna Opera. During his work, he became disillusioned with the opera seria genre, wrote several comic operas and created a choreographic drama.

This was the first step towards opera reform.

Comic operas were called opera buffa and they were written on everyday subjects.

The opera seria genre was in crisis. Artists competed in virtuosity, operas were similar to each other due to the same means of expression, there were many performances, but they did not stay long on the stage. The characters had no personal characteristics. Composers wrote about the condition of the heroes of the opera seria in almost the same way: joy, sadness, anger, melancholy.

In 1762, K. Gluck’s opera Orpheus and Eurydice was staged on the stage. It did not have much success among the audience, it was extremely unusual, but, as it turned out later, it was of great importance for the development of modern opera art.

The opera “Orpheus and Eurydice” was based on the ancient plot of the same name.

The myth tells about the musician Orpheus, whose music worked wonders: to the sounds of music, the rivers turned back, the forest animals obeyed.

Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus, dies from a snake bite. The gods allow Orpheus to descend underground into the realm of the dead, but with one condition. He should not turn around and look at her during the journey. Orpheus breaks the ban. However, the Gods, amazed by his singing and playing, forgive the musician and return Eurydice to life.

This is the voice of Orpheus, who lost his beloved. “I lost Eurydice,” he sings.

The main merit of Gluck is that he tried to combine the episodes into large scenes, to subordinate the numbers to a single storyline and emotional line.

In the 20th century, the Soviet composer Alexander Borisovich Zhurbin turned to the same ancient story.

“Orpheus and Eurydice” became the first Soviet rock opera. It was written in 1975, staged by the Singing Guitars vocal and instrumental ensemble at the opera studio at the conservatory in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad.

Zhurbin is a professional composer who works in many genres: symphonies, concertos, operas and vocal cycles, musicals, pop songs and much more. He was inspired to create a rock opera by American composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

This is how Orpheus lost Eurydice in the opera of the same name by A. B. Zhurbin.

Orpheus is played by Albert Assadullin. In the role of Eurydice – Irina Ponarovskaya.

A rock opera is a musical stage work in which arias are performed in the traditions of rock music and jazz. Attention is drawn to the new sounds of electric musical instruments, not so familiar for that time, especially in opera.

The plot of the opera was modernized, Orpheus goes to the competition of singers, and, having won, leaves his beloved. But the theme of love remains eternal and conquers all the vicissitudes of the hero.

The opera was a great success and became one of the most performed performances in the world.

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