The Aria Database is a collection of information about opera and operatic arias. Besides providing basic information about each aria, the Database includes translations for many arias and aria texts for those that are not affected by copyright restrictions. The Database also provides access to a collection of operatic MIDI files to give students and teachers an idea of what each aria sounds like. Currently, the Database holds information on the complete operatic aria collections of Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Wagner, and Puccini as well as the partial collections of over 50 other composers. The site has a standard yet attractive design and allows students and teachers to access the information through the use of a search engine, by directly accessing the entire database or by accessing the database by category (e.g., aria texts, translations, MIDI files, vocal range, vocal type, etc...) At the time of this review the site contained 1278 Arias, 170 Operas, 60 Composers, 381 Translations, 1027 Aria Texts and 223 MIDI files. The site also provides links for students and teachers to purchase music and books.
The major learning goal of this site is to familiarize students with opera aria texts. The site also provides opportunities for students to further their understanding of the music and words of the listed arias through the English translations and General MIDI sequences as well as basic information on the operas the arias come from.
Target Student Population:
This site would be appropriate for college level voice students, music history and music humanities students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer and internet skills are the only prerequisite knowledge needed to access and use this site.
Type of Material:
This site works well as a reference for students preparing arias for performance. Students and teachers can compare their own translation or understanding of the text with the translation in the data
base in developing their interpretation of a given aria. The General MIDI file could be used to familiarize the students with the music or even used with a sequencing program to assist in rehearsal. The site could also be used to provide texts for diction classes and for students and teachers to develop customized repertoire lists for study defined by a number of parameters including voice type and range. Additional links to numerous opera companies could assist with audition scheduling as well as performance attendance. Linka are also provided enabling users to order scores and recordings.
This database requires a sequencing program or media player program to operate the General MIDI files.
Evaluation and Observation
The texts are clearly presented and accurate. The translations are largely "word-for-word" and are generally accurate. The General MIDI files are fully quantized so they sound mechanical when played but are easily modified in any standard sequencing program to create a more musical rendering.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The potential effectiveness of this site as a teaching tool is dependent on the context a teacher provides in its use as a tool in making a comparative analysis of the text and translation of an aria. In the context of a broader understanding of plot, character and text analysis provided by a teacher, this database could bring an added dimension of comparison to the interpretive process.
The site does not include background information on arias or roles. It also does not include any synopsis of the operas in the collection. This information would provide a context for the text and translations.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is easy to use for both students and teachers.