Opera in the 19th Century

Ref: C3742775

From the bel canto era early in the century (Rossini, Bellini) through romanticism (Beethoven, Meyerbeer) and nationalism (Weber, Smetana) to verismo (Puccini, Mascagni), there are many examples to draw on, plus, of course, the two giants of 19th Century opera - Verdi and Wagner. On this course you will learn about these different styles and associated composers and how they related to their social and historical context.

Course aim

The 19th Century saw much development in the styles and in the subject matter of operas. This course aims to present this blossoming of operatic works, to highlight those which have lasted, and also those which have influenced opera development.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This course is for anyone with an interest in and desire to learn more about opera.

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

  • Identify the operas and composers associated with the ‘bel canto’ style.
  • Identify the operas and composers associated with ‘romanticism and nationalism’.
  • Identify the operas and composers associated with the 'verismo' style.
  • Relate to Verdi’s status as the hero of Italian opera in the 19th century and explain your views.
  • Identify Wagner’s unique contribution to opera and give an opinion on it.

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

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
  • Students will be encouraged to talk about their own experiences of listening to or watching opera.

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

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Information on relevant books, CD recordings and videos will be given out during the course, as well as information about forthcoming opera performances.

Download full course information sheet

Opera in the 19th Century


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • 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 2018
  • 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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