Opera: Making a Better World, for Every Person?

Ref: C3533262

Whilst opera has enjoyed great cultural prestige across the Western world for more than three centuries, opera remains surely the most inaccessible and culturally exclusive of all performing arts. Obstacles to participation in the world of opera, as an artist or an audience member, are everywhere, it would seem. The experience of opera is open only to those who can afford it, those brought up to value it and those who possess the sophistication (perhaps deriving from an elite education) to understand foreign languages and difficult music rarely heard by most people outside of the opera house. Opera’s inaccessibility and incapacity to reflect a diverse culture is to a large part rooted in its established repertoire of works written for the most part in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries reflecting the values of the privileged minority of those times – values that are irrelevant, perhaps even repulsive to us today. To what extent is any of this true?

Course aim

The course looks at and questions arguments about what role, if any, opera today might play in advocating, ignoring or resisting the values of diversity widely celebrated in the cultures within which it has existed for the past 300 years or more.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This is course is aimed at students with an interest in any arts topic, not least performing arts, and how the arts might reflect and promote the values of their time.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Reflect generally upon arguments for and against the value of opera to the diverse contemporary cultures within which it now exists.
  • Understand the cultural significance of opera at some key points in the history of the art form
  • Understand which areas of the current diversity debate opera may have some bearing upon
  • Understand some of the recent responses made by opera producers to address questions of cultural diversity

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?


Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Opera: Making a Better World, for Every Person?

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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