DISTRIBUTION OF VOICES IN OPERA
SOME insight into the manner of distributing voices in musical compositions has already been obtained by the reader. But a closer scrutiny of this matter is now practicable. The selection of voices for the interpretation of roles in dramatic works appears to have been governed at times by caprice and at other times by a feeling for propriety. But at whatever period we examine the use of voices we shall find that public taste had a certain amount of influence and that in the seventeenth century it operated entirely to the deterioration of dramatic art.
The musical drama began with a normal employment of voices. Men sang male characters and with masculine voices. If women did not always impersonate women, at least boys did. Later we find abnormality triumphant. The public, having lost all appreciation of dramatic verity and regarding opera as a mere field for the exhibition of vocal accomplishments, cared nothing