A form of theatre in which all, or at least most, of the lines are sung rather than spoken. They are commonly written in Italian, German, and French. However, there are also Czech, Chinese, Russian, and English operas. Frequently, the three largest roles are given to a soprano, a bass, and a tenor.
A soprano is a female singer with the highest vocal range. There are, however, many different types of sopranos, each suited to certain roles.
A bass is a male singer with the lowest range. An example of a very good bass voice is Nicolai Ghiaurov.
A tenor is a male singer with the highest vocal range. Often, they are the hero of the story and are in love with the soprano's character.
The plots range from a light-hearted comedy such as "La Fille du Regiment" (The Daughter of the Regiment) to tragedies such as "Aida" or "La Boheme". The music is often difficult to sing, though some arias are easier than others. I would not recommend attempting to sing any of them without training, however. Contrary to what some people believe, singing opera takes a great deal of work and skill and hitting all those high notes, which many people refer to as shrieking, is certainly not easy.
If you intend to go to the opera, it is a good idea to read the story first. Whether you have the story in a book or find it online, it tends to be more enjoyable if you know the story. Especially if you aren't a great opera fan and are simply going because some one you know wants you to accompany them.
Notable opera singers are: Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Maryline Horne, Maria Callas, Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorgiu, Roberto Alagna, and Jose Carreras.
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