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Profiles

  • Alfredo Kraus (1927 - 1999)
    Alfredo Kraus Trujillo (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfɾeðo kɾaus tɾuˈxiʎo]; 24 November 1927 – 10 September 1999) was a distinguished Spanish tenor from the Canary islands (known professionally as Alfred...
  • Jane Stuart Smith (1925 - 2016)
    Opera Singer. A dramatic soprano who enjoyed a major European career thru the 1950s, she walked away from opera to pursue a life of Christian service. Born to wealth and position, she had a privile...
  • Madame Louise Homer (1871 - 1947)
    Louise Homer was an American operatic contralto who had an active international career in concert halls and opera houses from 1895 until her retirement in 1932. After a brief stint as a vaudeville en...
  • Ángeles Gulín (1939 - 2002)
    Ángeles Gulín was a Spanish operatic soprano particularly associated with early Verdi works. Born María de los Ángeles Gulín Domínguez in Ribadavia, Spain, she moved with her family at the age of eig...
  • Veikko Tyrväinen (1922 - 1986)
    Veikko Aapeli Tyrväinen oli suomalainen oopperalaulaja (tenori). Tyrväinen lauloi vuosina 1946–73 Suomalaisessa oopperassa (vuodesta 1956 Suomen Kansallisooppera). Hänen tunnettuja roolejaan oli mm. Pa...

Scope of Project

This project identifies the personalities of the World of Opera, from Castratos to Prima Donnas.

Opera Singers By Nationality - Wikipedia List

Opera Singers

Project Profile Time Magazine - November 22, 1971

Overview

Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. Opera started in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with Jacopo Peri's lost Dafne, produced in Florence around 1597) and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Schütz in Germany, Lully in France, and Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. However, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, except France, attracting foreign composers such as Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. Today the most renowned figure of late 18th century opera is Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition. The first third of the 19th century saw the highpoint of the bel canto style, with Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini all creating works that are still performed today. It also saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Meyerbeer. The mid-to-late 19th century was a "golden age" of opera, led and dominated by Wagner in Germany and Verdi in Italy. The popularity of opera continued through the verismo era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Puccini and Strauss in the early 20th century. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in central and eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Bohemia. The 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism (Schoenberg and Berg), Neoclassicism (Stravinsky), and Minimalism (Philip Glass and John Adams). With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso became known to audiences beyond the circle of opera fans. Operas were also performed on (and written for) radio and television.

Early performances of opera were too infrequent for singers to make a living exclusively from the style, but with the birth of commercial opera in the mid-17th century, professional performers began to emerge. The role of the male hero was usually entrusted to a castrato, and by the 18th century, when Italian opera was performed throughout Europe, leading castrati who possessed extraordinary vocal virtuosity, such as Senesino and Farinelli, became international stars. The career of the first major female star (or prima donna), Anna Renzi, dates to the mid-17th century. In the 18th century, a number of Italian sopranos gained international renown and often engaged in fierce rivalry, as was the case with Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, who started a fist fight with one another during a performance of a Handel opera. The French disliked castrati, preferring their male heroes to be sung by a haute-contre (a high tenor), of which Joseph Legros was a leading example. Though opera patronage has decreased in the last century in favor of other arts and media, such as musicals, cinema, radio, television and recordings, mass media and the advent of recording have supported the popularity of famous singers such as Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Kirsten Flagstad, Mario Del Monaco, Franco Corelli, Kathleen Ferrier, Montserrat Caballé, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson, Nellie Melba, Rosa Ponselle, Beniamino Gigli, Jussi Björling, Feodor Chaliapin, "The Three Tenors" (Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras), and others.