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Glossary

Aria: A song expressing emotion or personal thoughts. This is the most complex part of the opera for a soloist.


Duo:
A musical piece sung by two vocal performers.


Trio:
A song for three vocal performers.


Quartet:
A song for four vocal performers or a group made up of four musicians.


Chorus:
A group of singers who perform together.


Ensemble:
Different melodies and often different scripts sung by two, three, or four voices at the same time.


Intonation:
The precision of a note when singing or playing an instrument.


Libretto:
The script of an opera.


Librettist:
The writer who adapts the story’s script to match the music.


Legato:
An instruction for musicians (it means “bound together” in Italian). Legato is the opposite of Staccato, which indicates a choppier movement.


Score:
A booklet containing the notes to be played by the instrumentalists or sung by the singers.


Operetta:
A lighter genre of music, combining comedy, songs, and usually dance, developed in the 19th century by Jacques Offenbach in France and Johann Strauss (the son) in Vienna.


Opéra bouffe:
A French variety of opera with a comical or light-hearted theme.


Opera buffa:
Italian comic opera (dating back to the early the 18th century).


French opéra-comique:
Initially a purely comic opera, which later took on a more sentimental dimension with dialogue interspersed with songs. The best example is Bizet’s Carmen.


Recitative:
A narrative song that describes the opera’s intrigue.