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Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. (Teldec)

Talk Like An Opera Geek: Musical Signposts

Feb 1, 2012

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Bizet's Carmen. Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. Verdi's Otello. Angela Gheorghiu's Puccini Arias. Know your rallentando from your accelerando? Opera singers must follow the composer's musical road signs.

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(Talk Like An Opera Geek attempts to decode the intriguing and intimidating lexicon of the opera house.)

From basics like speed limits to STOP, YIELD and KEEP RIGHT, traffic signs tell us how to navigate the road ahead. The same is true for opera singers. Their roadmap is the composer's score, and in it lie plenty of explicit directions (usually in Italian) on how to drive a voice or any other instrument through any given stretch of music.

This week, buckle up for a brief tour past a few of the dozens and dozens of musical road signs, with examples from some of opera's greatest chauffeurs.

Have a bit of operatic jargon that confuses or delights? Let us know.

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