Opera studies 1: passion, power and politics
Time: 13:20 - 15:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now started
Course Code: MD997
Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)
What is the course about?
Following the plan of the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum called ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’, which ran from from September 2017 to February 2018, we will consider seven different opera premières in seven different cities (Monteverdi’s ‘L’Incoronazione di Poppea’, 1642, in Venice; Handel’s ‘Rinaldo’, 1711, in London; Mozart’s ’Le Nozze di Figaro’, 1786, in Vienna; Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’, 1841, in Milan; Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’, (originally 1845, but the revised version of 1861), in Paris; Richard Strauss’s ‘Salome’, 1905, in Dresden; and Shostakovich’s ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtesnk District’, 1934, in Leningrad/St. Petersburg). The operas, composers and cities will be examined in their social and musical contexts; the focus in the course will be on the music and libretto of the operas, but the circumstances surrounding the first nights and their locations will also be explored.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- The background to each opera, composer, librettist and location
- Each opera in more musical detail
- Links between the operas and their first performances.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Discuss each individual opera and its political and social context
- Understand the circumstances of each opera’s composition and first performance
- Discuss the place of these operas in the context of their composers’ lives and work.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Some previous knowledge of opera is useful but not essential. No technical musical knowledge is assumed 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 provided 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. Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and, once enrolled, further online resources will be available via Google Classroom.
Information and resources from the original exhibition are available from the V&A website, and students will be guided to the relevant sections for background study during the course.
For an overview see https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/opera.
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 or books recommended in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
In Januray Pauline will teach MD998 Opera Studies 2: The operatic soprano
To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online 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.
Pauline Greene studied composition at Nottingham University and then composed, performed and was Musical Director with various theatre companies. She taught flute and composition, performing her music across the UK at various venues, including the Southbank Centre and the Edinburgh Festival, with her group The Concert Party, which she managed and directed. She has taught at the Universities of Middlesex and Hertfordshire, and ran the Music Access course at Morley College. She has taught at Birkbeck since 1984, moving from Music to Arts Management, and also lectures at Goldsmiths. She has given talks at the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall and Glyndebourne. At City Lit Pauline teaches a wide range of music history courses, with specialisms in opera, music for dance, theatre and film, musical analysis, and music since 1900. She is still involved in the organisation of small-scale charity concerts and one-off musical events, and she sings and plays with several small groups.
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.