GE Course: Introduction to Opera

Scene from "La rondine," spring 2017 productionMUSIC 3342

Autumn semester

GE: Visual and Performing Arts (V&PA)

Open to music majors and non-majors. No previous musical experience required.

PDF icon Music 3342 Syllabus_Autumn 2017 [pdf]

 


Course description

As the precursor to movies and to music video more generally, opera counts as the most involving and contemporary of all art forms. This course will present the fullest range of this "exotic and irrational entertainment," as surveyed across centuries and nations (Italy, France, Germany, Austria and America).

Since its inception in the 1600s, opera has used an extraordinary range of artistic elements to create dramatic visual and sonic performances: larger-than-life costumes, set, dance, orchestra, poetry, mythology, allegory, vocal virtuosity and artistry. Opera has served as both the popular music of its day - with superstar performers and sometimes scandalous commentary on society - and as elite intellectual practice, embodying heady artistic forms and philosophies.

The course will study operas from the 17th century to the present. Students will watch recordings during class time and will attend live performances on local stages. The focus will be the European operatic tradition, with some comparisons to musical/dramatic genres around the world. Participants will consider opera as both an artistic expression and a social force, analyzing music and drama as well as representations of race, nationality, class and gender.

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