Operatic voices are divided into 4 categories: soprano (high female), alto (low female), tenor (high male) and bass (low male). There are also 2 intermediate voices: mezzo soprano, female voice and baritone, male voice between tenor and bass. There are many more subtle distinctions used to define the range, tone, colour and timbre of a voice. They developed as a consequence of increasingly demanding roles which required more specific vocal types.
Venice was an important and rich commercial centre, welcoming foreign merchants, businessmen dignitaries and aristocrats on the Grand Tour. The demand for entertainment was therefore high, particularly during the Carnevale, Some enterprising impresarios came up with the idea of setting up a public opera house, charging the public for the hire of boxes on a subscription system. The business turned out to be profitable. In a few years 16 theatres were built requiring a big number of new operas. By the end of 1600 the repertoire counted about 300 operas.
Riccardo Zandonai was one of the last Italian operatic master craftsmen. Although many Italian composers after him continued to write operas, none will show the same consistent dedication or would produce such an impressive body of works. Composer of symphonic and chamber music as well as sacred music, Zandonai was also a sensitive and intelligent conductor.