19 Aug 2005
Melodrama wasn't always about villains twirling moustaches. It was once regarded as high art. Misha Donat on how the genre and its composers changed opera for ever
[The Guardian, 19 August 2005]
"Nothing has ever surprised me so much," wrote Mozart enthusiastically to his father after seeing Georg Benda's melodrama Medea in Mannheim, towards the end of 1778. "It is not sung, but only declaimed, and the music is like an obbligato recitative. Occasionally there is also speech underneath the music, which makes a marvellous effect. Do you know what I think? One ought to treat operatic recitative in this way, and only have sung recitative when the words can be well expressed by the music."