Opera in the 19th Century

Ref: C3741279

During the nineteenth century the opera established itself as the medium of popular choice in the mainsteam of European culture, as well as even further afield. Almost every major composer wrote for the opera house, some extensively, resulting in the creation of many of the world`s greatest operatic masterpieces, including Beethoven`s `Fidelio`, Rossini`s `Barber of Seville`, Verdi`s `La Traviata` and Wagner`s `Ring` cycle. These operas and many others will be considered in detail, both for their musical value and in their historical and social contexts.

Course aim

This course will explore opera in all its forms during the nineteenth century. We will be considering the development of the genre as a whole, with extended examples from works by Verdi, Wagner and other major figures.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • Learners with an interest in opera, the human voice, and soical and cultural history in general would find plenty of stimulating material in this course.

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

  • Explain how opera as a genre developed in musical terms during the nineteenth century.
  • Explain how opera reflected historical, cultural and social mores during the nineteenth century.
  • Identify key operas composed during the century, e.g Beethoven`s `Fidelio`, Verdi`s `La Traviata` and Puccini`s `Tosca`

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • We will be listening to many examples on both CDs and DVDs.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • It would however be an advantage to have at least some acquaintance with well-known operas written during nineteenth century, for example `The Barber of Seville`, `La Traviata` and `Carmen`

What can I do next?

  • Learneres should be able to attend or listen to operas composed during the nineteenth century with added awareness, and should be able to seek out new operatic experiences with an enhanced knowledge of what to expect in performance.

Download full Course information sheet

Opera in the 19th Century


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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 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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