Volume 1, No 1 How long has opera been with us? Many explanations are available for the hearing. Perhaps one of the most reliable theories has it that near the end of the sixteenth century, scholars and musicians in Florence, Italy, pondered the possibility of bringing music to drama. This is a natural outgrowth of the Renaissance because this group thought that the ancient Greeks had accompanied their plays with music. Spring, April, 2008 pera is basically a play set to music. The Oactors are accompanied by an orchestra. So that the words can be recognized, solos abound in this form of entertainment. The musical instruments and other singers are careful not to drown out the actor who is singing a solo because this person is delivering lines that convey the story of the play. Initially, more emphasis was put on the dramatic element; but, eventually, the public proved to be more fond of music than story lines. Plots began to take a back seat to arias. The music of these individuals transcends time. Although all of the composers mentioned are now dead, their operas are enjoyed by audiences around the world. Some of the most famous opera houses are located in Rome, Italy; Sydney, Australia; New York, New York; and London, England. Love is another popular theme in the world of opera. It comes in many forms: unrequited, fulfilled, divine, profane, familial, and others. To build tension, a triangle can be introduced. The emotional involvement of the three characters gives rise to impassioned pleas, suicides, murders, and other dramatic events, all of which are reasons for song. The more anxiety, the more opportunity for song. Love and death are recurring themes in some of the most famous operas. Madama Butterfly is an example of love, betrayal, and death. The character, Butterfly, having married an American naval officer, is left in Thus goes the evolution of a very enjoyable art form. Once limited to the live performance, opera is also available on tape recordings, compact disk, and video cassettes. In the future, voices of deceased sopranos, tenors, and other singers can be heard and compared with contemporary artists. Prepared by Elizabeth Peña Amo156 Elizabeth Peña, Editor he characters were often historical in Tnature and were even loosely drawn from mythology. As years passed by, costumes became more sumptuous, scenery more embellished, and the songs more elaborate. The dramatic element was almost lost amid the scales and backdrops. Acting was rather rigid and prescribed. Because the music was much more important to the audience than the quality of acting, men with high voices often sang the parts of women. Even today, women occasionally play parts of males if the role calls for lofty notes. The performers are still from Italy. Currently, however, they are joined by singers from the United States and Australia. One famous tenor conducts a contest each year and sings in concert with the winners. Japan when her husband sails to the United States. She awaits him with her baby. Un Bel Di, one of the most beautiful in opera, is sung while longingly watching the harbor. Upon the return of her husband, who has married an American, Butterfly kills herself. American opera has a different flavor from that written in Europe. This is because of the "wild West" motif. An sample of American opera is The Ballad of Baby Doe. Instead of nobility and gypsies, there are cowboys and miners. They are taken from American folklore. These colorful characters carry on the operatic tradition set against distinctly American backgrounds.