Opera studies 2: literature into libretto

Course Dates: 14/01/19 - 25/03/19
Time: 13:20 - 15:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Pauline Greene

How are books, plays, short stories and so on turned into a libretto: what changes need to be made, and why? There will be many examples to listen to, from Monteverdi to current works. This course has a scheduled break week: 18th February.


What is the course about?

Composers writing operas have very specific requirements for their librettists. The text must be clear, express character and emotion, be suitable for singing, be concise, allow plenty of time for musical development, and yet convey the plot. We will look at operas based on various literary forms and examine how they have been adapted, speculating on the reasons for the changes that have been made. Tutor: Pauline Greene [external website].

What will we cover?

-the requirements for a good libretto
-an analysis of good and bad libretti
-the study of various different sources for operas from literature
-some composer-librettist partnerships and their operas.

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

- understand the basic structure of an opera and its component parts
- understand the requirements of a composer needing a libretto, in various historical periods
- understand the difference between an effective book/poem/short story and an effective libretto
- understand the working partnership of librettist and composer.

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

Some knowledge of opera is useful but not essential. No technical knowledge of music is required.

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 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 a piece or reading a review, may be set from time to time. 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?

In the summer term Pauline will be teaching another opera course, Opera Studies 3: Operas in Production (MD999) on Monday afternoons, as well as Introduction to Musical Analysis: Module 2 (MD643B) on Monday mornings, a course on Cole Porter: his life and work, on Friday mornings.

To find out more about music appreciation classes and to read some of our recommendations, please see the blog post Music history and appreciation: the 2018/19 programme which lists our full programme of classes listed 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


This course has now started

Course Code: MD998

Started Mon, day, 14 Jan - 25 Mar '19

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £189.00
Senior fee: £151.00
Concession: £115.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions? music@citylit.ac.uk
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.