Articles

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater? Mark Adamo, Composer and Librettist

Mark AdamoPhoto by Christian Steiner, courtesy G. Schirmer, Inc. Even if we limit discussion to contemporary American work, we first need to define terms. The musical play, as defined by Rodgers and Hammerstein, extends from Oklahoma through Fiddler on theRoof to Ragtime. The songbook-style musical comedy, covers most of the Rodgers & Hart, Gershwin, Berlin, […]

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater? Diane Wondisford, Producing Director, Music-Theatre Group

Diane Wondisford The differences that exist between opera and music theatre, have to do with form, dramatic structure, scale, style, and tone. In opera, the story is conveyed through aria and recitative, very rarely unaccompanied spoken word, and sometimes the dance. In the creation of a music-theatre piece, artists borrow from many forms and structures. […]

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater? Grethe Barrett Holby, Artistic Director, American Opera Projects

Grethe Barrett HolbyPhoto by Arthur Elgort In Music-Theater, the music is in the theater; in Opera, the music is the theater. It is not only that generally opera is through-composed and that most often all the lines are sung. It is that the composition and performance of the music not only embodies, but expands, lays […]

How spontaneous or worked out are your improvisations? David Krakauer

David KrakauerPhoto by Bogdan Krezel, courtesy Aleba Gartner Improvising in Klezmer Music falls basically into two categories. One is the ornamenting of set (traditional or original) melodies. The other is improvising in an open, rhapsodic form—most often the "doina" (a kind of cross between a Rumanian shepherd’s song and cantorial singing). In both instances there […]

How spontaneous or worked out are your improvisations? Tony Trischka

Tony TrischkaPhoto by Don Fisher, courtesy Rounder Records My improvisations take a number of forms. If I’m soloing on a traditional bluegrass tune, I’ll try to stick to the melody as closely as possible. Sometimes I’ll do something that John Hartford (great banjoist and fiddler and composer of “Gentle on my Mind”) suggested to me: […]

How spontaneous or worked out are your improvisations? David S. Ware

David S. WarePhoto by David Katenstein, courtesy AUM Fidelity My solos are just about completely spontaneous, but I may have a pure conception in mind for a particular solo. It may or may not be based around a key center. Usually, what I’m trying to do is overcome something. There’s something inherent in every moment, […]

More Than a Coin Toss: Improvisation vs. Composition in Jazz

Howard MandelPhoto by Melissa Richard Improvisation and composition are two sides of one coin alloyed in the medium of form. At least it’s how it is in jazz — though maybe a coin is too static an image for anything so dynamic as music or so fluid as the relationship of improvisation and composition. Not […]

Soundtracks: March 2001

It’s a funny thing how our weaknesses work, sometimes. My improvising abilities are pitiful – put something down on paper, I’ll play it, but ask me to make it up, and I’m just reading the inside of my eyeballs. The good aspect of the situation is this: I stand in awe of composer-performers who improvise. […]