ARIA – (Italian for ‘air’): a musical piece for solo voice used to express feelings about or to comment on a particular situation in the opera plot.
BRAVO / BRAVA – (Italian for ‘well done’): a term often yelled out by appreciative audiences at the end of an opera, or particularly difficult aria. ‘Bravo’ should be directed towards male singers, and ‘brava’ to female singers.
CHOREOGRAPHY – the process of creating dance or movement.
CHORUS – a group of singers, often mixed vocal types, which perform in an opera in such roles as towns’ people, servants, party goers, or any group of people.
COMPOSER – the person that creates the music.
CONDUCTOR – the person responsible for rehearsing and directing musical performances by visible gestures, designed to keep everyone in unison. The conductor’s baton was introduced in the early 19th century. (Also called Maestro)
COVER – a singer that learns the same role as a principal artist, and can replace the principal in case of illness or injury. (Also called understudy)
DIRECTOR – the person responsible for creating the overall concept of a production, interpreting the dramaturgical elements, and staging the production. The director works closely with the conductor.
DUET – a piece of music for two voices/instruments.
DYNAMICS – the degree of volume required in a piece i.e. how loud or soft a piece must be sung or played.
ENSEMBLE – (French for ‘together’): a group of players or singers performing together in unison.
FINALE – the concluding segment of an act of a production.
LIBRETTIST – the person/s that writes the libretto for an opera.
LIBRETTO – (plural libretti) literally translated as ‘little book’, traditionally the libretto was given out to be read during a performance listing the cast and stage direction. The printing of libretti declined in the 19th century. Nowadays, the term is used to refer to the text of the opera – similar to lyrics.
OPERA – (Italian for ‘work’; singular opus): a musical dramatic work in which the artists sing some or all of their parts. A combination of singing, instrumental music, drama and spectacle.
OVERTURE – a musical introduction to the opera played by the orchestra.
PRIMA DONNA – (Italian for ‘first lady’): refers to the leading female singer in an opera company. The male counterpart is a primo uomo.
PRINCIPAL ARTIST – a term referring to the more accomplished opera singers within a production that play the title and lead roles.
QUARTET – a piece of music for four voices/instruments.
SCORE – the written music of an opera or other musical composition.
SOLO – a piece sung, played or danced by one performer
TEMPO – the overall speed of the music
TIMBRE – the quality of a musical tone; it distinguishes voices from instruments.
TRIO – a piece of music for three voices/instruments.
VOCAL SCORE – slightly different to a music score, where the vocal parts are written out in full, but the instrumental accompaniment is reduced down and adapted for piano.