Some simple definitions from a singer's perspective.

If every word of a drama or play is sung, it is called an opera.  If a single character in an opera
sings a
song, it is called an aria.  During the realism movement in Italy in the late 1800's,
operas began depicting ordinary characters in everyday life - including our darker emotional sides.
Since then,
opera has been for everyone.  Even the English rock band The Who wrote an opera (Tommy).

But most operas were written for several trained voices with an orchestral collaboration in mind. And unlike rock
music, there is no electronic amplification in opera, so the physical, mental and technical demands
on the singers are
Olympian at times.  (In truth, there were actually Olympics in singing in ancient Greece.).
I believe, that to sing opera well, you have to call upon your
"inner sumo wrestler."
And almost nothing requires more multitasking than singing an opera.

If a song is
not part of a drama or play, and it is composed in the classical tradition
for only one trained voice and piano, it is called an
art song.  The texts often come from great poets.
The singer enjoys more artistic freedom and she/he may employ a wider dynamic range,
since the voice does not need to be heard over an orchestra.

Art songs last only a few minutes, like any other type of song, but I think of them as “
museum quality”.  
They are not background music.  
A world unto themselves, they ask that one sit quietly and take them in.

While it is wonderful to hear art songs in a recital hall, more intimate settings provide a
heightened experience.
Sitting near the singer, in small venues, or
at home with your friends in your own modern day "music salon"
is best.  You can
feel, even more intensely, the physical and visceral excitement
as waves of naturally produced sound wash over you.  

I believe art songs are the most eloquent expression of common human experiences --
if the song is a romantic serenade, it may well be the quintessential one.
My intention is to
sing and act them with passion,
while simultaneously allowing something greater than myself to speak through me.
.  Happily, the listener does not need to know about art songs to enjoy them.  They are just beautiful songs.

When texts are in foreign languages, I provide translations for your guests.
I'll also tell you about the interesting composers, zany ideas and history of the period.
Hear beautiful singing, storytelling and yes, even stand-up comedy.
In this salon, the two faces of drama work in tandem to engage everyone.

This
elegant style of entertaining is currently enjoying a great resurgence
at special events in America and Europe, and I am very excited to be part of it.  
I hope you will invite me in to share this experience with you!

      Gordon Tweedie