The purpose of the this study is to indicate the close relationship between the text of tragic composition – what we have in written form and can read – with melopoiia (music composition) and opsis (visual elements of performance), which Aristotle includes in the qualitative parts of tragedy in Poetics. More specifically, it looks at the modes of delivery of poetic text corresponding to various types of metre, and reviews some features of the representation of plot and characters on stage that are implicit in the text. Ancient theatre production was based on several interdependent conventions, which constituted a number of acoustic and visual codes. Such codes were gradually developed in tandem with the poetry of dramatic genres (both tragedy and comedy), and as a result their relationship to the text was semantic and connotational. Systems of conventions, therefore, enriched the theatrical experience of the spectators by elucidating (or even illustrating) and supplementing the signification of language.
Theatre conventions, however, including musical modes, solo singing, masks and costumes (not to mention the architectural development of stage buildings), have been ignored, or even repudiated, in modern productions, (a) because they were – and to a large extent they still are – poorly known, and (b) because modern producers address a contemporary audience and in addition desire (or perhaps are expected) to be original artists. The present paper focuses on music, masks, and costumes, and puts forward the view that no “original” production of Greek tragedy can be truly successful unless it undertstands, respects and takes advantage of the conventions of the ancient didaskalia.