who wrote in the nineteenth century. His work La traviata (1853) was one of the most-performed operas in 2019. Other important opera composers of the nineteenth century included the Italian Giacomo Puccini, who created La bohéme (1896) and Madama Butterfly (1904), and the Frenchman Georges Bizet, whose most famous opera is Carmen (1875). The German composer Richard Wagner developed the concept of leitmotif in his nineteenth century dramatic operas, including Der Ring des Nibelungen , Die Meistersinger , and Tristan und Isolde . A leitmotif is a “theme” of music that reoccurs throughout a composition. It can be associated with a particular character, such as the hero (or the villain), but could also be associated with an idea, situation, or group. The purpose of the leitmotif is to signal the audience about the actions taking place. It can also give an idea of the character’s psychological standpoint. For instance, someone who is a villain may have a dark or sad leitmotif, written in a minor key. A hero would be more likely to have a leitmotif in a major key, and it would sound triumphant. Wagner used the leitmotif to enhance dramatic moments within the opera. For example, every time the hero arrives on the scene, the theme plays. Wagner used the leitmotif to put the audience on edge or to make them excited. Today, the concept of the leitmotif is commonly used in film and stage music. Operettas An operetta is a type of light opera, which is usually shorter than an opera and may have lighter themes overall. There is usually spoken dialogue that splits up musical numbers, and the music may feel more lighthearted. Some were romantic, and the music, always with traditional orchestral instruments, reflected this. Some of the most notable composers of operettas include Johann Strauss and the British team of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.


Chapter 1: The Roots of Music for Stage and Screen

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