Meaning of SERENATA in English


( (Italian: evening music), ) plural Serenatas, or Serenate, form of 18th-century vocal music combining many features of cantata, oratorio, and opera. Although semidramatic in nature, the serenata was shorter and not as elaborately staged as opera; rather, it usually consisted of a small orchestra and several singers, in costume. There was little scenery, and it was simple and unpretentious; the performance traditionally was presented as an evening entertainment in a palace reception room. The pieces were customarily written to commemorate some special occasion, such as the birthday of a royal person, and were very much in vogue at the courts of Europe (particularly the emperor's court at Vienna). Frequently, the texts were of an allegorical character, the subject being chosen from mythology or ancient history and treated in such a manner as to portray a very flattering and symbolic resemblance to the celebrant. Alessandro Stradella was one of the first composers of serenatas (Qual prodigio ch'io miri, c. 1675); he was followed by Alessandro Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel, and most other composers of the late 17th and 18th centuries. One of the most enduring and well-known examples of this genre is Handel's pastoral serenata Acis and Galatea (c. 1718).

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