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Articles by John Snelson

Lights! Coloratura! Action!: The giddy world of opera’s ‘action’ songs

3 February 2016

Drinking songs such as La traviata’s famous Brindisi are just the start of opera's songs describing action.

Tosca Musical Highlight: The Te Deum

11 January 2016

A stunning musical depiction of Heaven and Hell closes Act I of Puccini's iconic Roman opera.

Cavalleria rusticana Musical Highlight: The Easter Hymn

30 November 2015

Mascagni’s draws on church music in this masterful and intense evocation of a small community and one guilt-ridden woman’s position outside of it.

Pagliacci Musical Highlight: ‘Vesti la giubba’

27 November 2015

In this short aria – famously the first million-selling record in history – Leoncavallo tracks his central character’s descent into despair.

The Shipping Cues: Why ships on stage make great drama

17 February 2015

Building a ship on stage might be a stage designer’s nightmare, but life on or by the sea has made ideal material for some of opera’s greatest stories.

Stormy Weather #2: Smart techniques for bringing a storm to the stage from history's great composers

23 January 2015

Beethoven inspired a host of operatic composers including Rossini, Verdi and Weill in musical methods for creating an operatic storm.

Andrea Chénier Musical Highlight – The Act III Trial Scene

19 January 2015

Giordano's music has a cinematic sweep in his depiction of the riotous trial where his hero is unjustly sentenced to death.

Ballet in Bloom: The Flower Waltz

24 December 2014

Ballet choreographers have long loved to craft swirling floral patterns for the corps de ballet, set to a waltz's gentle lilt.

Un ballo in maschera musical highlight: The Laughing Chorus in Act II

9 December 2014

Verdi’s music for the chorus ‘Ve’, se di notte’ shows how laughter can be used to heighten tragedy.

Tristan und Isolde Musical Highlight: The ‘Tristan Chord’

20 November 2014

Wagner is credited with changing the course of Western music in just four notes, but what turned a chord into a musical icon?

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