Number opera

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A number opera consists of individual musical numbers, i.e. self-contained musical sentences that are linked by recitatives or spoken dialogues. The numbers can be sung ( aria , duet , trio , quartet , choir , etc.) or purely instrumental (e.g. march ). The numbering helped organize the rehearsals, but also made it possible to transpose or swap individual numbers, especially arias, as might be desired, for example, when the line-up was changed .

The number opera is the norm in the 18th century. With the spread of the recitativo accompagnato and the lengthening of the final movements since the end of the 18th century, the interchangeability of the numbers has become less and the structure of the acts more dramatic. Since the second third of the 19th century, the number opera has been largely replaced by the fully composed opera, in which there are no more caesuras between individual movements. Significant forerunners can already be found in the French operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck and especially Antonio Salieri (e.g. in Les Danaïdes and even more so in Tarare ). Richard Wagner finally dissolved the subdivisions with his concept of the “infinite melody” , and this caught on. The number opera lives on in vaudeville and operetta .

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