Write a 6 pages paper on what is opera. This paper looks at the nature and purpose of opera in the twentieth century with specific reference to the unfinished masterpiece Moses and Aron which was written by classical composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) between 1930 and 1932.

In the medieval period most people encountered formal music principally in religious settings but after the great turbulence of the Reformation, there came a time of gradual extension of a musical performance into the salons of high society. Wealthy patrons of the Renaissance commissioned music to be written for special occasions such as weddings and coronations. In France, the ballet form emerged, and in Italy genres such as the pastorale became popular: “The attraction of the pastorale consisted, therefore, not in the plot but in the scenes and moods, the sensuous charm of the language, and the delicately voluptuous imagery, at which the Italian Renaissance poets excelled.”2 Aspects of theatrical and musical technique were combined, until finally opera was born: a combination of spoken and sung texts, set in sumptuous surroundings, and produced on a massive scale with full orchestra, a chorus, and soloists.

Classical and biblical stories were favorite themes at first, but as time progressed, the tone became gradually lighter, with operetta rising in popularity along with the gradual democratization of opera to the wealthy middle classes as well as the traditional aristocratic audiences. Opera captured the imagination with its lofty themes, and it took on some of the pageantries of religious spectacles, providing intellectual, rather than spiritual inspiration to an eager public.

By the twentieth century new genres, and notably also technology such as gramophones and radio, extended the range of genres for musical production available and brought musical performances to still further sectors of the population. Schoenberg’s compositions were, however, unreservedly directed at the music-loving elites, and his choice of theme.

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