Mozart: the early operas

Course Dates: 18/09/19 - 27/11/19
Time: 14:00 - 16:10
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Explore Mozart’s operas from Bastien und Bastienne (1768) to Idomeneo, re di Creta (1780-1). Discover the stories and the music of these youthful works and learn about Mozart’s early biography. Tutor: Dr Edward Breen [external website]

Scheduled break week 23 Oct.


What is the course about?

Mozart’s early operas were often dismissed as unimportant by his biographers yet such opinions were often swayed by the old-fashioned storylines of the librettos. They contain many wonderful musical passages, the more florid of which were unfairly characterised by the phrase "too many notes" in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus.

What will we cover?

- Selected operas for study will include: Bastien und Bastienne, Mitridate, re di Ponto, Ascanio in Alba, La finta giardiniera, Zaide and Idomeneo, re di Creta
- The traditional forms of the Italian opera seria and opera buffa
- German Singspiel form
- An outline of Mozart’s biography before 1780
- Selected source readings relevant to the chosen repertoire (newspapers, letters etc…)
- Developments in Mozart’s musical / dramatic style
- Some comparison with other contemporary works that Mozart may have known
- Social, political and religious context of Mozart’s early operatic compositions.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Understand the elements and key forms of several early Mozart operas
- Relate the operas to key developments in social culture
- Make a more informed assessment of Mozart’s musical achievements
- Display an enhanced knowledge of the scholarship and literature covering Mozart’s early years.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No prior knowledge of the subject is required. You do not need to read music to take this course (although we will look at music notation from time to time). You will be asked to do some reading in class and between sessions.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate
Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled further online resources will be available.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to bring a pen/pencil and a folder to keep your notes and handouts organised. You may also wish to purchase some of the music books or recordings discussed in class, links to these materials will be available online after each session.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details

Tutor Biographies
Edward Breen Tutor Website

Edward teaches music history and music theory at City lit where he is Head of Programme: Advanced Studies in the School of Performing Arts. His specialism is early music (medieval, renaissance and baroque periods) and he completed his PhD in historical musicology at King's College London (2013) on the performance of medieval music. Outside of teaching, Edward is a regular contributor to Gramophone magazine and has lectured for Dartington International Summer School, London's Southbank Centre and The British Library. He has also worked as a researcher for BBC Proms and written for the journal Early Music (OUP). His recent essays are published in: The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Historical Performance in Music, (Cambridge University Press); The Montpellier Codex: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music 16 (Boydell Press); Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen (Ashgate 2018); and 30-Second Classical Music (Ivy Press).

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: MD504

Wed, day, 18 Sep - 27 Nov '19

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £199.00
Senior fee: £159.00
Concession: £121.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2630

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.