What is the course about?
We are used to seeing mainstream nineteenth-century opera with a heroic, romantic, emotional tenor in the leading male rôle. In the earliest operas, the hero was as likely to be a ‘castrato’ as a tenor - so how did the change to the leading tenor come about, and how did the voice develop? What made the difference between a lyric tenor in the operas of Mozart and the heroic tenor in those of Verdi, and what is the rôle of the tenor in more contemporary operas? We look at some famous tenor rôles and singers as we explore the characteristics of the voice and its place in opera. Tutor: Pauline Greene [external website].
What will we cover?
- The tenor voice in opera, from its earliest days to the present
- Differing kinds of tenor voice and vocal training
- Famous tenor rôles in opera.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Identify some different kinds of tenor voices, e.g. lyric tenor and heroic tenor
- Identify some famous tenor characters in various operas
- Understand the development of the tenor voice, musically and in varying operatic rôles throughout opera history.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Some previous knowledge of opera is useful but not essential but you should have an interest in music and be keen to find out more. You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussions and take notes in English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught using a range of techniques including short lectures, slide shows and discussions, practical demonstrations on the piano and guided listening and watching sessions. Courses use a variety of materials including YouTube clips. Links to these are given on handouts so that further exploration may take place between classes if you wish. Occasional short preparation tasks, such as listening to an aria or reading about a composer, librettist or style, may be set from time to time. There will be lots of clips from operas to watch in class, and also
afterwards at home if students have access to the internet. Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and, once enrolled, further online resources will be available via Google Classroom.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
- Please bring a notebook and pen.
- You may wish to buy some of the music, books or DVDs recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
City Lit offers a wide range of music history classes, as well as related courses in history, art history and philosophy. Next term Pauline will be teaching another course focusing on opera,
MD997 Opera studies 2: Mozart and da Ponte,
and in the summer term,
MD999 Opera Studies 3: Operas in Production, as well as other music history courses, and introductory courses on arts administration and management.
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.