Day School: Great Opera Singers of the 20th Century

Ref: C3740008

Recordings made by Enrico Caruso in a Milan hotel room in 1902 were an early experiment which proved to be hugely successful. The recordings were in great demand and helped to make Caruso a household name. Other early recordings were of soprano Louisa Tetrazzini and bass Fyodor Chaliapin. Starting with these early recordings, this Study Day will feature great singers throughout the century, mixing well-known names such as Callas, Sutherland and Pavarotti with some less-well-known and also those still singing such as Domingo and Bartoli. We will enjoy audio and video excerpts along with brief biographies.

Additional information about this course

Includes lunch. End time: 16:30. This course is not supported by the Skills Funding Agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available - contact the Branch for further details.

Course aim

This course is designed to provide the opportunity to hear the great opera singers of the 20C, using recordings that span the entire century, and to assess how singing styles have changed throughout this time.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in and desire to learn more about opera.

What topics will this course cover

Who were the great opera singers of each voice type from each decade of the century? How have singing styles changed throughout the period? How have acting skills developed over the years? How has the availability of recordings contributed to the popularity of opera? How do modern singers compare with singers from earlier eras?

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

1. Describe at least two of the great opera singers from the early decades of the century; 2. Assess whether and how singing styles have changed; 3. Relate how at least two singers sparked a revival of interest in the 'bel canto' composers in the decades 1950-60; 4. Identify at least two successful singing partnerships; 5. Assess the 'best' singer of each voice type.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Through discussion in class

What else do I need to know, do or bring?


Reading and information sources


What could the course lead to?

A list of recordings used will be provided, so that students can acquire these resources.

Download full course outline

Day School: Great Opera Singers of the 20th Century Course Outline


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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