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Thread: Composing my first romantic-era styled opera-

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    Default Composing my first romantic-era styled opera-

    So. I only casually compose, but I'm writing this story about a composer (and musician). And she's currently working on an Italian opera.
    She's in the 19th century, the romantic era. Which means they are more emotional, more meaningful, and more virtuosic, correct (like instrumental pieces from that era)? I think she's going to ask her friend, who is a fiction writer, if she'd like to be my protagonist's librettist.
    The opera itself is meaningful to my story's plot, so I can't just mention it in passing.
    I want it to be virtuosic, but not impossible. It's supposed to be the milestone in her composing career.
    Anyway, I guess I'm just asking for tips. I don't think I'll have difficulty with the musical accompaniment, but I've never written an opera before. I have some of the lyrics, but not all, and I'll need to translate it into Italian correctly. I think there will be six or seven characters: one contralto, one soprano, two tenor, one countertenor, one baritone, and maybe one silent.
    So what's your experience with operas? What advice do you have? Have you composed one that is in a language you don't speak? My knowledge of Italian extends to musical terms, and that's where it ends. On that note (no pun intended), what would you recommend as being the best way to translate the lyrics from English to Italian? I usually use Google Translate, but the last few times it's been weird. Do operas often have dancers accompanying them? Also, what sort of musical embellishments are common in opera? I don't exactly know how vocalists can sing trills, but apparently they can.
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Jeanette Townsend; Nov-26-2018 at 16:44.

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    Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
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    So many questions !

    I am sure an opera can exist without a single note written , and then even more strangely it can be heard by the artist as a spiritual yet realistic experience , the composer's intention having been honored . It's a compassionate tiddle of existential anarchy .

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    I think the best way to go about it is learning Italian proper. I've written a single opera, and it is important to be able to utilize wordplay and other literary devices in opera as well as you can in your native language.

    Perhaps start off trying to write a simple aria or lied first, and gradually work your way up. And of course, write out a synopsis/roadmap of your planned work before you begin writing.

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    Thank you both!
    I'd like to learn Italian after French and German, but I might switch the order to French and then Italian (I have to be fluent in French within the next two years). I can always work so long in French before learning Italian. I don't know if I need to be completely fluent or just be able to hold my own in a conversation with French people. But anyway, I'll be learning the language at some point.
    Yes, I'm definitely writing a synopsis of the opera prior to completing the lyrics. I just had a few ideas at the time and wanted to write them down.
    I will try to do a few arias first. Actually, that makes sense, because my character wouldn't just start out on an opera, either. She'd do simpler vocal works first, since she doesn't compose regularly for voice.
    I don't technically "have" to compose a fictional opera. I could just wing it. But when I'm reading a book about something the author clearly has no clue what they're talking about, I want to throw the book across the room. It irritates me, to say the least. So I figured I might as well actually compose the opera, and that way her experiences will seem real, because they're real to me as the writer. It's something I'd like to do eventually, anyway. I'm also pretty sure I have to compose an opera in the next two years for school (Advanced Music).

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    Senior Member MarkMcD's Avatar
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    I've never written an opera, but I have written a few songs, and one thing I would suggest is to have the libretto complete and translated before you start to write the music as the wording and phrasing will have quite an impact on the musical phrasing when you try to fit the words to the music. I'm British, but live in Spain and speak Spanish, not too dissimilar to Italian, and the rhythm of the language is quite different to English, and many times there are no direct translations, as in word for word translations, often you have to use a greater or lesser amount of words than you would in English, to convey what you want to say, so to have the libretto in English and the music written to fit that language, will not work if you try to translate it as a whole once you've written the music.

    As for (I'm assuming you mean sung ornamentation), there are some fantastic coloratura singers that can do amazing things with their voices. Check out coloratura on you tube, and for something a bit more modern, the Diva's aria from 5th element starts of with a Donizetti aria (Il dolce suono, from Lucia di Lammermoor) but then breaks into something original written for the film, and it is sung without electronic enhancement and is quite amazing. In the film, the soprano Inva Mula Tchako, sings it to perfection, you tube it.

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    Thanks! I will look those up, and will definitely finish the libretto first, and translate it, before working on the music.

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    Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
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    Embrace the absurdity of translations . Ha! an exquisitely funny book and with a few illustrations of eccentric hand-written music score .

    Exquisitely funny and unpretentious .... The New Yorker
    Last edited by Tikoo Tuba; Nov-29-2018 at 21:12.

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    Yes, some translating can be quite crazy! I once wrote a poem in English and translated it with Google Translate into a Scandinavian language, I believe. I translated it back to English and it was full of garbled nonsense. I bet that book is hilarious!

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    Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
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    There's a Tikoo post in Opera that introduces a fundamental of universal language . I hope somebody will find it enlightening . It's a dimension of translation that can be poetically useful .

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