Directions (1-5): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below them.
“Popular art” has a number of meanings, impossible to define with any precision, which range from folklore to junk. The poles are clear enough, but the middle tends to blur.
The Hollywood Western of the 1930’s, for example, has elements of folklore, but is closer to junk than to high art or folk art. There can be great trash, just as there is bad high art. The musicals of George Gershwin are great popular art, never aspiring to high art. Schubert and Brahms, however, used elements of popular music—folk themes—in works clearly intended as high art. The case of Verdi is a different one: he took a popular genre—bourgeois melodrama set to music (an accurate definition of nineteenth-century opera—and, without altering its fundamental nature, transmuted it into high art.
This remains one of the greatest achievements in music, and one that cannot be fully appreciated without recognizing the essential trashiness of the genre. As an example of such a transmutation, consider what Verdi made of the typical political elements of nineteenth-century opera. Generally in the plots of these operas, a hero or heroine—usually portrayed only as an individual, unfettered by class—is caught between the immoral corruption of the aristocracy and the doctrinaire rigidity or secret greed of the leaders of the proletariat. Verdi transforms this naive and unlike formulation with music of extraordinary energy and rhythmic vitality, music more subtle than it seems at first hearing. There are scenes and arias that still sound like calls to arms and were clearly understood as such when they were first performed. Such pieces lend an immediacy to the otherwise veiled political message of these operas and call up feelings beyond those of the opera itself. Or consider Verdi’s treatment of character. Before Verdi, there were rarely any characters at all in musical drama, only a series of situations which allowed the singers to express a series of situations which allowed the singers to express a series of emotional states. Any attempt to find coherent psychological portrayal in these operas is misplaced ingenuity. The only coherence was the singer’s vocal technique: when the cast changed, new arias were almost always substituted, generally adapted from other operas. Verdi’s characters, on the other hand, have genuine consistency and integrity, even if, in many cases, the consistency is that of pasteboard melodrama. The integrity of the character is achieved through the music: once he had become established, Verdi did not rewrite his music for different singers or countenance alterations or substitutions of somebody else’s arias in one of his operas, as every eighteenth-century composer had done. When he revised an opera, it was only for dramatic economy and effectiveness.
Q1. Which of the following best describes the relationship of the first paragraph of the passage to the passage as a whole?
(a) It provides a group of specific examples from which generalizations are drawn later in the passage
(b) It leads to an assertion that is supported by examples later in the passage
(c) It defines terms and relationships that are challenged in an argument later in the passage.
(d) It briefly compares and contrasts several achievements that are examined in detail later in the passage.
(e) It explains a method of judging a work of art, a method that is used later
Q2. The author refers to Schubert and Brahms in order to suggest
(a) that their achievements are no less substantial than those of Verdi
(b) that their works are examples of great trash
(c) the extent to which Schubert and Brahms influenced the later compositions of Verdi
(d) a contrast between the conventions of nineteenth-century opera and those of other musical forms
(e) that popular music could be employed in compositions intended as high art
Q3. It can be inferred that the author regards Verdi’s revisions to his operas with
(a) regret that the original music and texts were altered
(b) concern that many of the revisions altered the plots of the original work
(c) approval for the intentions that motivated the revisions
(d) puzzlement, since the revisions seem largely insignificant
(e) enthusiasm, since the revisions were aimed at reducing the conventionality of the operas’ plots
Q4. According to the passage, one of Verdi’s achievements within the framework of nineteenth-century opera and its conventions was to
(a) limit the extent to which singers influenced the musical compositions and performance of his operas
(b) use his operas registered as forums to protest both the moral corruption and dogmatic rigidity of the political leaders of his time
(c) portray psychologically complex characters shaped by the political environment surrounding them
(d) incorporate elements of folklore into both the music and plots of his operas
(e) introduce political elements into an art form that had traditionally avoided political content
Q5. It can be inferred that the author of the independence from social class of the heroes and heroines of nineteenth-century opera as
(a) an idealized but fundamentally accurate portrayal of bourgeois life
(b) a plot convention with no real connection to political reality
(c) a plot refinement unique to Verdi
(d) a symbolic representation of the position of the bourgeoisie relative to the aristocracy and the proletariat
(e) a convention largely seen as irrelevant by audiences
S1. Ans. (b)
Sol. Option (b) best describes the relationship of the first paragraph of the passage to the whole passage. Initially the paragraph has mentioned about the different types of quality art that is available. Later on, the author has further supported his statement by providing different examples of such art such as the Hollywood western’s art and Verdi’s musical art. Also, author has used example of Schubert and Brahms to explain his views on folkart.
S2. Ans. (e)
Sol. Refer the second last sentence of the second paragraph “Schubert and Brahms, however, used elements of popular music—folk themes—in works clearly intended as high art.”
S3. Ans. (c)
Sol. Refer the last sentence of the passage “When he revised an opera, it was only for dramatic economy and effectiveness.”
S4. Ans. (a)
Sol. Refer the last paragraph of the passage “Before Verdi, there were rarely any characters at all in musical drama, only a series of situations which allowed the singers to express a series of situations which allowed the singers to express a series of emotional states.”
S5. Ans. (b)
Sol. Refer first few lines of the last paragraph “As an example of such a transmutation, consider what Verdi made of the typical political elements of nineteenth-century opera. Generally, in the plots of these operas, a hero or heroine—usually portrayed only as an individual, unfettered by class—is caught between the immoral corruption of the aristocracy and the doctrinaire rigidity or secret greed of the leaders of the proletariat.”