Introduction to European Opera

Summer 2018 (First Session)
Daytime Evening
Day and Evening
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Arun Chandra
music composition, performance

European Opera came into being with the development of an international capitalist economy during the nineteenth century. After the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, musicians in Europe were no longer supported by the nobility, and instead, had to earn their livings by creating the public concert , which encouraged the growth of musical stars and virtuosos , such as Franz Lizst and Niccolo Paganini. Simultaneously, operas also grew as a popular means for earning money by musicians.

As a form of art, opera involves many things:  theatrical acting, tremendous vocal technique, costuming, lighting, set building, not to mention the skill of an orchestra and its conductor. Along with the number of people involved, an enormous amount of money is needed to support the whole endeavor. This art form requires tremendous amounts of coordination from many different skill sets, for the sake of three or four hours pleasure, where one error can bring down the entire edifice of live performance.

We'll be looking at the growth of opera, starting with the late 18th century opera The Marriage of Figaro by the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, up to contemporary experiments with opera, You, My Mother by the American composer Rick Burkhardt. We'll read the plays or texts on which these operas were based, along with listening to and watching a performance of the entire opera. Each performance will be preceded by a lecture given by the teacher.

In addition to the two operas mentioned above, we'll study Das Rheingold (Richard Wagner), Falstaff (Giuseppe Verdi), and Wozzeck (Alban Berg).

Students who take the class for two credits will be asked to write five short papers, one on each opera, comparing the opera with the play or novel it was based on.

Students who take the class for four credits will meet in an additional seminar, where the music of each opera will be discussed. They will be asked to write five slightly longer papers, each discussing the play and its opera, and a simple analysis of one of the music pieces from that opera.

Students will receive credit in European Opera  (2 credits) and Introductory Music Analysis (2 credits).

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Music, Teaching, Aesthetics, History, Performance


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$30 for concert tickets

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 25
Daytime Evening

Scheduled for: Day and Evening

Final schedule and room assignments:

Advertised schedule:

Monday evening: 6-10pm [for 2-credit option and 4-credit option]

Tuesday afternoon: 12-4pm [for 4-credit option only]

Located in: Olympia