Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

How to Listen to and Understand Opera

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For more than 400 years, opera has been one of the most popular performing arts. Geniuses—Monteverdi, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini—produced some of the landmark artistic achievements of all time in this form. With Professor Robert Greenberg to show you how, you can learn to understand, appreciate—even to love—opera in just 24 hours of lectures. 

The Details

With the knowledge of opera from this course, you will understand how music has the power to reveal truths beyond the spoken word; how opera is a unique marriage of words and music in which the whole is far greater than its parts. You will learn the reasons for opera’s enduring popularity. And you will be able to explore in great depth the extraordinary and compelling world of opera.

The history of opera is traced from its beginning in the early 17th century to around 1924. The lectures examine landmark operas; musical, cultural, and social developments that influenced opera’s growth; and the influence of national languages and cultures on opera.

How To Listen to and Understand Opera – Overview

  • Part I: The Full Flower and Its Origins
  • Part II: The Aria, the Golden Age, Opera Seria, Opera Buffa
  • Part III: Rossini and Verdi: The Development of French Opera
  • Part IV: Wagner, Strauss, Puccini

How to Listen to and Understand Opera Lectures

  1. Introduction to Words and Music, I
  2. Introduction to Words and Music, II
  3. A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, I
  4. A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, II
  5. Invention of Opera and Monteverdi’s Orfeo, I
  6. Invention of Opera and Monteverdi’s Orfeo, II
  7. Invention of Opera and Monteverdi’s Orfeo, III
  8. Invention of Opera and Monteverdi’s Orfeo, IV
  9. The Growth of Opera, The development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart’s Idomeneo, I
  10. The Growth of Opera, The development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart’s Idomeneo, II
  11. The Growth of Opera, The development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart’s Idomeneo, III
  12. The Growth of Opera, The development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart’s Idomeneo, IV
  13. The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, I
  14. The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, II
  15. The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, III
  16. The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, IV
  17. The Bel Canto Style and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, I
  18. The Bel Canto Style and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, II
  19. Verdi and Otello, I
  20. Verdi and Otello, II
  21. Verdi and Otello, III
  22. Verdi and Otello, IV
  23. French Opera, I
  24. French Opera, II
  25. German Opera Comes of Age
  26. Richard Wagner and Tristan and Isolde, I
  27. Richard Wagner and Tristan and Isolde, II
  28. Late Romantic German Opera—Richard Strauss and Salome
  29. Russian Opera, I
  30. Russian Opera, II
  31. Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, I
  32. Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, II