Tag Archives: #WordWednesday

#WordWednesday: Supernumerary


SUPERNUMERARY (20 Scrabble points) – Latin – A supernumerary is opera’s version of an extra. Supernumeraries have no dialogue and are directed to create a believable scene, when the environment calls for large groups of people. But they’re actors or artists in their own right. What would Gianni Schicchi have been like without the lively corpse played by Momo Casablanca? What would the Pagliacci circus be like without dozens of attentive audience members? Can you imagine the cinematic beauty of Paris in La Boheme without several spirited supernumeraries showcasing the quintessential Parisian “joie de vivre?”

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Word Wednesday: Soubrette



SOUBRETTE (11 Scrabble points) – French – A soubrette is both an operatic voice type and a style of character. Soubrette voices are lighter soprano or mezzos (often sung by younger singers), while soubrette characters are attractive and saucy ladies. Think Musetta in La Boheme.

In our Belle Époque Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme follows the story of six young bohemians, surviving only on laughter and the promise of love. One of them is Musetta, a singer, who early on abandons her rich lover in order to be with her ex. While Mimi may be the La Boheme’s famous femme, Musetta adds a quirky edge and her Waltz (“Quando me’n vo’”) is one of the most famous pieces from Puccini’s opera. Check out Nino Machaidze sing Musetta’s Waltz below and make sure to see her in May, when she makes her role debut as Mimi in our production.

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#WordWednesday: Parlando



PARLANDO (11 Scrabble points) – Italian – Parlando literally means “in speaking style” and refers to the moment when singers used technique to bring singing close to speaking. In other words, singers will sound like they are speaking, but using the rhythm and/or inflections used for singing. A famous example of this is mid-way through the famous aria, “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca (which returns next season starring Sondra Radvanovsky). See a video of Radvanovsky performing the aria below. At first, she sings along with the melody, but soon diverts (around the 1:15 minute mark) from the melody into a section where she’s singing in the style of speech (as if she converses with herself).

Looking forward to our upcoming 16/17 season’s revival of Tosca starring Sondra Radvanovsky? We’ve collected a couple articles for you to read before seeing the show next year.

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#WordWednesday: Singspiel

WW - Singspiel

SINGSPIEL (12 Scrabble points) – German – A singspiel, which literally translates to “sing-play” is a German comic opera that mixes spoken dialogue with singing. Singspiels are folkloric in nature, often having fantasy elements. If you are slightly more inclined towards musical theater, then singspiels are the opera genre for you. Famous singspiels include Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio (coming next season) and The Magic Flute (though our upcoming production has taken out the dialogue).


Excited about our upcoming singspiels? Learn more below.

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#WordWednesday: Cadenza

CADENZA (19 Scrabble points) – Italian – A cadenza is an elaborate section (sometimes improvised) towards the end of an aria that allows the singer to really showcase what their voice can do, like the below “Flute Cadenza” in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Interestingly enough, Donizetti never wrote such a section into his original score for Lucia. The section was added to showcase Nellie Melba’s coloratura singing during an 1889 performance at The Paris Opera. Other famous singers (Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Beverly Sills) added their own flavor when playing Lucia. Check out Diana Damrau (who will play all four heroines in our 16/17 production of Tales of Hoffmann) tackling Lucia’s entire mad scene below, including the famous cadenza.


Can’t get enough Diana Damrau? Get to know Diana Damrau in the articles that follow and get in the Damrau spirit.

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#WordWednesday: Countertenor

COUNTERTENOR (13 Scrabble points) – Latin – A countertenor is the highest, adult male voice type in opera. Countertenor parts are common in Baroque opera (watch Anthony Roth Costanzo sing “Stille amare” from George Frideric Handel’s Tolomeo below) but they also gained an increased popularity in the mid to late 20th century with the works of Benjamin Britten and Philip Glass. The title character in Akhnaten, which opens at LA Opera in November as part of the 16/17 season is a countertenor part.


Can’t get enough of the countertenor voice? We’ve collected a few articles and videos below to get you in the countertenor spirit.

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#WordWednesday: Cabaletta

CABALETTA (13 Scrabble points) – Italian – A cabaletta is a feature of Italian opera common in the first half of the 19th century. The fast, final section of a two-part aria, a cabaletta is animated, lively, and memorable. Think the end of the first act of Verdi’s La Traviata, when Violetta sings “Sempre libera.” Listen to Maria Callas’ rendition below.

Our recent production, Norma also has a famous cabaletta; the heroine’s slow aria (cavatina) “Casta diva” is followed by the cabaletta “Ah! Bello a me ritorna”.

Can’t get enough of cabalettas? Stay tuned for our upcoming 2016/2017 season announcement on January 26; you may be pleasantly surprised.

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#WordWednesday: Cavatina

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

CAVATINA (13 Scrabble Points) – Italian – Cavatina is a short operatic aria in simple style without repeated sections. Norma’s famous aria “Casta diva” is a classic example of this. Short and simplistic or long and melodic, Norma’s incredible cast will surely blow you away.

Can’t get enough of Norma? We’ve collected some articles to get you in the druid spirit below.

Norma’s Girl Power Playlist

Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma is arguably the ultimate girl power opera, with a fiery and dramatic plot that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. To help everyone get in an empowering mood, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 girl-power anthems for you to listen to until the opening night of Norma this Saturday. Here’s a list of 10 stellar girl power songs.

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The winds have shifted! The tide has changed! With the pending arrival of Moby-Dick, we’re on to sea words for #WordWednesday.

PEQUOD (18 Scrabble Points) – The Pequod is the fictitious whaling ship that Captain Ahab and his crew call home, as they sail the seas in search of the elusive white whale, Moby-Dick.

Moby Dick sails to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on October 31st, and the Pequod will be a stunning set to see, consuming the stage with ropes, masts and breathtaking visuals.

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Up Your Word Nerd Game with Opera Terms: #WordWednesday

Share Word Wednesday:  Learn new opera terms for your next Scrabble game!  Opera – the art form – draws from many different languages for its music and its terminology, making the language of opera rich with high scoring words. Because … Continue reading

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