A night at the opera

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 April, 2010, 12:00am

'An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination and its stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house'

Maria Callas (1923 - 1977), opera singer

Action, excitement, story

There are many ways in which you can tell a story. You can use just words and tell your story as a novel, poem or short story. You could use pictures and images and tell your story as a film or video. Ballet or dance tells a story using movement and music and opera tells stories using singing and music. Sometimes a storyteller uses bits of different story-telling techniques and mixes everything together to tell the story he has in his imagination. There are no set rules on how to tell a story. Tonight, let's go to the opera.

A ticket for the opera

Operas are dramas that use music and songs to tell their story. Sometimes an opera includes a little spoken dialogue to move the action along but usually there are no spoken words at all in an opera and all the characters sing instead of speak. Opera brings together many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, lighting and costumes. Sometimes it includes dancing, too. Some people say operas are unnatural because nobody would sing as they are plotting a murder, falling in love, dying or just communicating with another person. But this is missing the point - opera is all about bringing music and words together to create passion, excitement and emotion.

Opera research

You want to find out a bit more about opera. Here is the place to begin.

1 What is a 'libretto'?

a. the words that the singers sing in an opera

b. the stage on which an opera is performed

2 What is an 'opera house'?

a. the home of an opera singer

b. the theatre in which an opera is performed

3 Who was Luciano Pavarotti (1935 - 2007)?

a. a famous Italian opera singer

b. a famous French opera composer

4 What is an 'aria'?

a. the final scene in an opera

b. a solo song performed by a character in an opera

5 What are 'surtitles'?

a. a translation into the audience's own language of the words sung in an opera which are projected above the stage during a performance

b. a booklet you buy to explain the background and the story of an opera

6 Who was Richard Wagner (1813 - 1853)?

a. a German opera composer

b. the character in a famous German opera

7 Where is The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden?

a. Sydney, Australia

b. London, England

8 For what sports event was the opera aria Nessun Dorma used as a theme tune?

a. 1990 Fifa World Cup

b. 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney

9 What is an 'orchestra pit'?

a. a sunken area in front of the stage where the orchestra plays during an opera

b. a recording of the music from an opera

10 What is an 'opera score'?

a. a DVD of an opera

b. the music of an opera

Opera or not?

Which five of the following are famous operas?

1 Madam Butterfly

2 Twilight

3 Alice in Wonderland

4 Twilight of the Gods

5 Tosca

6 La Traviata

7 The Chamber of Secrets

8 Carmen

9 The Wind in the Willows

10 To Kill a Mockingbird

Watch opera

You can watch high-definition screenings of some of the world's greatest operas performed by the Metropolitan Opera of New York. Sponsored by the Foundation for the Arts and Music in Asia, the screenings have been running since earlier this year. Still to come are Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen, Armida, Hamlet and Simon Boccanegra.

Tickets from HK Ticketing on 31 288 288