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.