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An Introduction to Opera

This course will look at the development of the operatic art-form from its first origins to its culmination in the works of Wagner and Verdi in the 19th century.

Its aim will be not only to introduce opera, but also to put the operatic works in historical context. In each lecture a particular era or movement will be examined and combined with an historical overview, a detailed look at the work of selected composers and a focus on three particular operas. The course provides a taster of the operatic genre both helping the newcomer to start exploring one of the world's great art-forms, whilst offering new historical insights for the more established opera lover. To encourage listeners to explore further, lectures will conclude with a short recorded operatic extract, and suggested listening lists will be provided for those who wish to explore further at home.

Operatic Beginnings
Baroque opera from Monteverdi to Gluck

This first lecture focuses on the genesis of opera at the Italian courts in the 16th century and how it arose from the development of the madrigal and the work of the Florentine Camerata. You will follow both the rise of commercial opera houses, and opera becoming the royal 'must have'. As opera developed so did the importance of the librettists, and you will see how the 18th century poet Metastasio attempted to purify the operatic form, leading to the revolution initiated by Gluck and his librettist Calzabigi with Orfeo ed Eurydice. You will look in detail at Monteverdi and Orfeo, Handel and Giulio Cesare, Gluck and Orfeo ed Eurydice.


Mr Robert Hugill | talks


Date and Time:

14 January 2016 at 10:45 am


Half Day



The University Women's Club
2 Audley Square

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