This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Video title

Priority Code

Cancel
How to Listen to and Understand Opera

How to Listen to and Understand Opera

Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D.
San Francisco Performances
Course No.  740
Course No.  740
Share:
Video or Audio?
While this set works well in both audio and video format, one or more of the courses in this set feature graphics to enhance your learning experience, including illustrations, images of people and event, and on-screen text.
Which Format Should I Choose? Video Download Audio Download DVD CD
Watch or listen immediately with FREE streaming
Available on most courses
Stream using apps on your iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire
Available on most courses
Stream to your internet connected PC or laptop
Available on most courses
Download files for offline viewing or listening
Receive DVDs or CDs for your library
Play as many times as you want
All formats include Free Streaming
All formats include Free Streaming

Course Overview

About This Course

32 lectures  |  45 minutes per lecture

For more than 400 years, opera has been one of the most popular performing arts. Geniuses—Monteverdi, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini—produced some of the landmark artistic achievements of all time in this form. With Professor Robert Greenberg to show you how, you can learn to understand, appreciate—even to love—opera in just 24 hours of lectures that are a pleasure to hear.

With the knowledge of opera from this course, you will understand how music has the power to reveal truths beyond the spoken word; how opera is a unique marriage of words and music in which the whole is far greater than its parts. You will learn the reasons for opera's enduring popularity. And you will be able to explore in great depth the extraordinary and compelling world of opera.

View More

For more than 400 years, opera has been one of the most popular performing arts. Geniuses—Monteverdi, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini—produced some of the landmark artistic achievements of all time in this form. With Professor Robert Greenberg to show you how, you can learn to understand, appreciate—even to love—opera in just 24 hours of lectures that are a pleasure to hear.

With the knowledge of opera from this course, you will understand how music has the power to reveal truths beyond the spoken word; how opera is a unique marriage of words and music in which the whole is far greater than its parts. You will learn the reasons for opera's enduring popularity. And you will be able to explore in great depth the extraordinary and compelling world of opera.

Professor Greenberg is to the lecture what Mozart was to opera. Brilliant, irreverent toward his subject and yet awed by it, he is ingenious in his approach to ensure that his work will have its intended effect on the listener.

The music is transcendently beautiful. In this course, you will listen to some of the most extraordinary artistic works of all time. Customers who have taken this course report:

  • "Dr. Greenberg performed a miracle—he made me enjoy opera."
  • "Now I understand why I already loved opera."
  • "Excellent course! Professor Greenberg gives a lively, informative presentation that opens the heart to love opera as well as the mind to understand it!"

The history of opera is traced from its beginning in the early 17th century to around 1924. The lectures examine landmark operas; musical, cultural, and social developments that influenced opera's growth; and the influence of national languages and cultures on opera.

Part I: The Full Flower and Its Origins

The first eight lectures are foundational. You examine the origins of opera and the adaptations of other musical forms that allowed opera to achieve its full effects, first accomplished in Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607.

But Professor Greenberg does not hide the result while waiting on history to get us there. The course opens with one of the most powerful moments in opera—the dramatically loaded aria "Nessun dorma" ("No one shall sleep") from Giacomo Puccini's Turandot.

In Turandot, you are exposed to opera's unique incorporation of soliloquy, dialogue, scenery, action, and continuous music into an incredibly expressive and exciting whole.

This famous aria shows us the power of the composer—the power of creating music that goes beyond the words of the libretto to express thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed in words.

The study continues with a discussion of how music reveals character and the unconscious state. You are introduced to operatic archetypes such as Figaro and Carmen.

You examine how the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman culture contributed to the riches of the Renaissance. You see the evolution of the madrigal, a form that was ultimately rejected in favor of a more expressive vocal medium: early opera.

Part I of the course concludes with an analysis of the first successful attempt to combine words and music into musical drama, Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607.

Part II: The Aria, the Golden Age, Opera Seria, Opera Buffa

Recitative, the essence of Monteverdi's style, made music subservient to words, but because of its forward-driving nature, recitative cannot express personal reflection.

You learn how the invention of the aria gave opera composers a powerful tool to stop the dramatic action for characters' moments of self-reflection.

Gluck's reforms and his Orfeo ed Euridice of 1762 are addressed as the starting point for the modern opera repertory. The explosion of operas in the Golden Age–Dark Age of opera is discussed. You learn how different voice types are assigned different roles, and how this has varied by culture.

The rise of opera seria and its characteristics are discussed, along with an analysis of the second act of Mozart's Idomeneo—opera seria transcendent.

You examine the development of opera buffa, from its origins in the popular folklore of the Commedia dell'Arte to its eventual replacement of opera seria. Mozart's brilliant The Marriage of Figaro is discussed as one of the greatest contributions to the opera buffa genre.

Part III: Rossini and Verdi: The Development of French Opera

You see how the Italian language and culture gave rise to the bel canto style, with its comic plots, one-dimensional characters, appealing melodies, and florid melodic embellishments.

Dr. Greenberg reveals how highly pressurized the business of opera was in the 18th century. Rossini once remarked, "In my time, all the impresarios of Italy were bald by 30." You are introduced to Rossini's The Barber of Seville of 1816 as the quintessential bel canto opera.

You learn how Giuseppi Verdi broke the bel canto mold. He dominated Italian opera for over half a century by virtue of his lyricism, his emphasis on human emotions and psychological insight, and his use of the orchestra and parlante to drive the dramatic action and maintain musical continuity.

Verdi's Otello is discussed as one of the greatest operas of all time.

You next study French opera and why it became a distinctly different genre from Italian opera. Nineteenth-century French opera—grand opera, opéra comique, and lyric opera—are three distinctive French genres. You'll hear why in Act 2 of Bizet's dramatically powerful Carmen .

Part IV: Wagner, Strauss, Puccini

You see how German singspiel, a play with music, grew from humble origins as a low-class entertainment to high art with Mozart's The Rescue from the Harem (1782) and The Magic Flute (1791). You learn how Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz established 19th-century German opera.

You then study Richard Wagner: his personal beliefs, musical theories, and operatic innovations. Wagner turned to the ancient Greek ideal for inspiration, and from it he conceived the idea of an all-encompassing artwork, or music drama, in which the orchestra plays the role of a purveyor of unspoken truths. Dr. Greenberg cites Wagner's Tristan und Isolde as the most influential composition of the 19th century, next to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Richard Strauss and his controversial opera Salome exemplifies late Romantic German opera.

You examine Russian opera and nationalism. The late development of Russian opera is outlined from Mikhail Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila to Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. You see how the Russian language shaped the vocal style of Russian opera.

The course concludes with an overview of opera verismo, a 19th- and 20th-century genre that favors depictions of the darker side of the human condition; a transcendent example of it is in the pivotal second act of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca.

The essence of opera is debated as you hear part of a scene from Richard Strauss's Capriccio. Is it words, or is it music? It is an indefinable combination of both, with the whole greater than the parts.

View Less
32 Lectures
  • 1
    Introduction and Words and Music, I
    In the first two lectures we develop a methodology for listening to and understanding opera. We are introduced to the concept of opera as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts in its combination of soliloquy, dialogue, scenery, action, and continuous music. We see how music can evoke what words cannot express; the composer is the dramatist. This combination of words and music endows opera with a unique dramatic power. We are introduced to the concept of opera characters as archetypes, and we study the reasons for the lasting popularity of opera. x
  • 2
    Introduction and Words and Music, II
    In the first two lectures we develop a methodology for listening to and understanding opera. We are introduced to the concept of opera as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts in its combination of soliloquy, dialogue, scenery, action, and continuous music. We see how music can evoke what words cannot express; the composer is the dramatist. This combination of words and music endows opera with a unique dramatic power. We are introduced to the concept of opera characters as archetypes, and we study the reasons for the lasting popularity of opera. x
  • 3
    A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, I
    Throughout the history of European music, style and form have changed constantly. Beginning in ancient Greece, we trace the history of vocal music through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We focus on the rise of popular secular music in a world hitherto dominated by the music of the Roman Catholic Church. Renaissance composers turned increasingly to the ancient Greek ideal for inspiration. The madrigal was rejected for a vehicle that better expressed this ideal: opera. x
  • 4
    A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, II
    Throughout the history of European music, style and form have changed constantly. Beginning in ancient Greece, we trace the history of vocal music through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We focus on the rise of popular secular music in a world hitherto dominated by the music of the Roman Catholic Church. Renaissance composers turned increasingly to the ancient Greek ideal for inspiration. The madrigal was rejected for a vehicle that better expressed this ideal: opera. x
  • 5
    Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, I
    In Lectures 5 through 8 we review the Greek idea of music as it related to music of the Renaissance. We see the evolution of intermezzo as a precursor to the first real opera. We look at the role of the Florentine Camerata in the development of opera, and we examine in depth the first real opera, Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607. x
  • 6
    Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, II
    In Lectures 5 through 8 we review the Greek idea of music as it related to music of the Renaissance. We see the evolution of intermezzo as a precursor to the first real opera. We look at the role of the Florentine Camerata in the development of opera, and we examine in depth the first real opera, Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607. x
  • 7
    Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, III
    In Lectures 5 through 8 we review the Greek idea of music as it related to music of the Renaissance. We see the evolution of intermezzo as a precursor to the first real opera. We look at the role of the Florentine Camerata in the development of opera, and we examine in depth the first real opera, Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607. x
  • 8
    Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, IV
    In Lectures 5 through 8 we review the Greek idea of music as it related to music of the Renaissance. We see the evolution of intermezzo as a precursor to the first real opera. We look at the role of the Florentine Camerata in the development of opera, and we examine in depth the first real opera, Monteverdi's Orfeo of 1607. x
  • 9
    The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, I
    Lectures 9 through 12 review the main features of early opera and trace its growth from the early 17th century up to Mozart's Idomeneo of 1781. As opera became a public entertainment, its literary and dramatic substance deteriorated. We learn how the formulaic rigidity of opera seria led to vocal abuses, and how Gluck represented a new wave of reform, creating the model for the next generation of opera composers. Finally, we look at Mozart's Idomeneo, the transcendent opera seria. x
  • 10
    The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, II
    Lectures 9 through 12 review the main features of early opera and trace its growth from the early 17th century up to Mozart's Idomeneo of 1781. As opera became a public entertainment, its literary and dramatic substance deteriorated. We learn how the formulaic rigidity of opera seria led to vocal abuses, and how Gluck represented a new wave of reform, creating the model for the next generation of opera composers. Finally, we look at Mozart's Idomeneo, the transcendent opera seria. x
  • 11
    The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, III
    Lectures 9 through 12 review the main features of early opera and trace its growth from the early 17th century up to Mozart's Idomeneo of 1781. As opera became a public entertainment, its literary and dramatic substance deteriorated. We learn how the formulaic rigidity of opera seria led to vocal abuses, and how Gluck represented a new wave of reform, creating the model for the next generation of opera composers. Finally, we look at Mozart's Idomeneo, the transcendent opera seria. x
  • 12
    The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, IV
    Lectures 9 through 12 review the main features of early opera and trace its growth from the early 17th century up to Mozart's Idomeneo of 1781. As opera became a public entertainment, its literary and dramatic substance deteriorated. We learn how the formulaic rigidity of opera seria led to vocal abuses, and how Gluck represented a new wave of reform, creating the model for the next generation of opera composers. Finally, we look at Mozart's Idomeneo, the transcendent opera seria. x
  • 13
    The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, I
    In this study of comic opera—opera buffa—we see how comic opera, with its roots in popular folklore, developed separately from the opera seria of the aristocracy. We learn how the more accessible, populist opera buffa was championed by Enlightenment progressives such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Opera buffa character types and conventions are discussed, and one of the greatest examples of opera buffa, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1786), is examined in detail. x
  • 14
    The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, II
    In this study of comic opera—opera buffa—we see how comic opera, with its roots in popular folklore, developed separately from the opera seria of the aristocracy. We learn how the more accessible, populist opera buffa was championed by Enlightenment progressives such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Opera buffa character types and conventions are discussed, and one of the greatest examples of opera buffa, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1786), is examined in detail. x
  • 15
    The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, III
    In this study of comic opera—opera buffa—we see how comic opera, with its roots in popular folklore, developed separately from the opera seria of the aristocracy. We learn how the more accessible, populist opera buffa was championed by Enlightenment progressives such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Opera buffa character types and conventions are discussed, and one of the greatest examples of opera buffa, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1786), is examined in detail. x
  • 16
    The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, IV
    In this study of comic opera—opera buffa—we see how comic opera, with its roots in popular folklore, developed separately from the opera seria of the aristocracy. We learn how the more accessible, populist opera buffa was championed by Enlightenment progressives such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Opera buffa character types and conventions are discussed, and one of the greatest examples of opera buffa, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1786), is examined in detail. x
  • 17
    The Bel Canto Style and Rossini's The Barber of Seville, I
    Lectures 17 and 18 discuss bel canto, the dominant style of 19th-century Italian opera. Its features of appealing melodies and florid melodic embellishments are suited to the Italian language. Bel canto operas are based on comic, predictable plots and one-dimensional characters to indulge the contemporary Italian taste for pure entertainment. Our frame of reference is the landmark bel canto opera, The Barber of Seville, by the most important Italian composer of bel canto operas, Gioacchino Rossini. x
  • 18
    The Bel Canto Style and Rossini's The Barber of Seville, II
    Lectures 17 and 18 discuss bel canto, the dominant style of 19th-century Italian opera. Its features of appealing melodies and florid melodic embellishments are suited to the Italian language. Bel canto operas are based on comic, predictable plots and one-dimensional characters to indulge the contemporary Italian taste for pure entertainment. Our frame of reference is the landmark bel canto opera, The Barber of Seville, by the most important Italian composer of bel canto operas, Gioacchino Rossini. x
  • 19
    Verdi and Otello, I
    The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and opera seria are the focus of Lectures 19 through 22. We learn how Verdi dominated the operatic scene in Italy for more than half a century by the power of his beautiful melodies and his focus on human emotions and psychological insight. We see how Verdi gave the orchestra an increasingly important role in the drama, and how he used technique to endow his operas with musical continuity and maintain dramatic momentum. Verdi's style is discussed with references to Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Otello. x
  • 20
    Verdi and Otello, II
    The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and opera seria are the focus of Lectures 19 through 22. We learn how Verdi dominated the operatic scene in Italy for more than half a century by the power of his beautiful melodies and his focus on human emotions and psychological insight. We see how Verdi gave the orchestra an increasingly important role in the drama, and how he used technique to endow his operas with musical continuity and maintain dramatic momentum. Verdi's style is discussed with references to Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Otello. x
  • 21
    Verdi and Otello, III
    The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and opera seria are the focus of Lectures 19 through 22. We learn how Verdi dominated the operatic scene in Italy for more than half a century by the power of his beautiful melodies and his focus on human emotions and psychological insight. We see how Verdi gave the orchestra an increasingly important role in the drama, and how he used technique to endow his operas with musical continuity and maintain dramatic momentum. Verdi's style is discussed with references to Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Otello. x
  • 22
    Verdi and Otello, IV
    The Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and opera seria are the focus of Lectures 19 through 22. We learn how Verdi dominated the operatic scene in Italy for more than half a century by the power of his beautiful melodies and his focus on human emotions and psychological insight. We see how Verdi gave the orchestra an increasingly important role in the drama, and how he used technique to endow his operas with musical continuity and maintain dramatic momentum. Verdi's style is discussed with references to Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Otello. x
  • 23
    French Opera, I
    In Lectures 23 and 24 we give an overview of the evolution of a distinctly French style; explain why and how French opera is different from Italian opera; and emphasize that operatic content, both musical and dramatic, is most often a function of the language, politics, and economic class of its consumers. French opera composers discussed include Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Georges Bizet. x
  • 24
    French Opera, II
    In Lectures 23 and 24 we give an overview of the evolution of a distinctly French style; explain why and how French opera is different from Italian opera; and emphasize that operatic content, both musical and dramatic, is most often a function of the language, politics, and economic class of its consumers. French opera composers discussed include Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Georges Bizet. x
  • 25
    German Opera Comes of Age
    In this lecture we learn how German opera owed its evolution to German folklore and the requirements of the German language. We see how it came into being with Mozart's The Magic Flute of 1791, and how it was indebted to the traditional German entertainment of singspiel. Weber's Der Freishütz is examined as the work that established 19th-century German opera. x
  • 26
    Richard Wagner and Tristan und Isolde, I
    Lectures 26 and 27 examine the contribution of the paradoxical Richard Wagner to operatic history. Wagner's life and career is summarized. We look at Wagner's theories, his admiration for ancient Greek drama, and his invention of leitmotif. Schopenhauer's philosophy and its influence on Wagner's concept of music drama are also discussed. Finally, we examine Wagner's landmark opera Tristan und Isolde as the quintessence of his mature style, and as the most influential composition of the 19th century. x
  • 27
    Richard Wagner and Tristan und Isolde, II
    Lectures 26 and 27 examine the contribution of the paradoxical Richard Wagner to operatic history. Wagner's life and career is summarized. We look at Wagner's theories, his admiration for ancient Greek drama, and his invention of leitmotif. Schopenhauer's philosophy and its influence on Wagner's concept of music drama are also discussed. Finally, we examine Wagner's landmark opera Tristan und Isolde as the quintessence of his mature style, and as the most influential composition of the 19th century. x
  • 28
    Late Romantic German Opera—Richard Strauss and Salome
    In this lecture, Richard Strauss's opera Salome is discussed as an example of late romantic German opera. After an overview of Strauss's early life, we examine his psychopathological and erotic Salome and the reasons why it is one of the most controversial operas of all time. x
  • 29
    Russian Opera, I
    This lecture on Russian opera traces the causes, history, and character of Russian musical nationalism. Glinka and his opera Ruslan and Lyudmila are discussed as the foundation of Russian opera leading the way for The Russian Five and the pinnacle of Russian nationalist opera, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. x
  • 30
    Russian Opera, II
    This lecture on Russian opera traces the causes, history, and character of Russian musical nationalism. Glinka and his opera Ruslan and Lyudmila are discussed as the foundation of Russian opera leading the way for The Russian Five and the pinnacle of Russian nationalist opera, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. x
  • 31
    Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, I
    The final lectures examine opera verismo: its origins, character, and greatest exponent—Giacomo Puccini. Puccini's virtues and faults are discussed—especially his marvelous power of lyricism, sometimes pursued at the expense of dramatic reality. The second act of Tosca is analyzed as an example of his style and as one of the most powerful acts in all opera. The study concludes with a musical illustration of the nature of opera, scene 9 from Richard Strauss's Capriccio. x
  • 32
    Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, II
    The final lectures examine opera verismo: its origins, character, and greatest exponent—Giacomo Puccini. Puccini's virtues and faults are discussed—especially his marvelous power of lyricism, sometimes pursued at the expense of dramatic reality. The second act of Tosca is analyzed as an example of his style and as one of the most powerful acts in all opera. The study concludes with a musical illustration of the nature of opera, scene 9 from Richard Strauss's Capriccio. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

Your professor

Robert Greenberg
Ph.D. Robert Greenberg
San Francisco Performances

Dr. Robert Greenberg is Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances. A graduate of Princeton University, Professor Greenberg holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has seen his compositions—which include more than 45 works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles—performed all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands.

He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and the Chicago Symphony. For The Great Courses, he has recorded more than 500 lectures on a range of composers and classical music genres.

Professor Greenberg is a Steinway Artist. His many other honors include three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress. He has been profiled in various major publications, including The Wall Street Journal; Inc. magazine; and the London Times.

View More information About This Professor
Also By This Professor
View All Courses By This Professor

Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5 by 47 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by From an opera grump to an enthusiast Yes, I play the classical violin, yes, I love music - but opera? To me this had remained a mysterious and not always pleasant presentation of music, and I was convinced that I simply didn't quite understand it. I must say that I was true. I simply didn't understand it. And this lecture truly changed a part of my life. Mr. Greenberg draws his audience into this cosmos of music. He explains how opera came to be, why it was invented and what the first operas were (I love Orfeo now, I bought the Ponnelle version as DVD afterwards). With many music samples and great fun analysis he also explains how opera style changed through time - and he presents some of the greatest masterworks and goes through them - at times in detail (which makes this course even more valuable). I got to know so many opera works, started understanding the differences between them, their basic ideas, what was new and what was old - a whole new world of art has been opened up for me. I can totally recommend to listen to this course on the way to work - it lighted up my days and I kept thinking about it all day through. Such a pity that it had to be over at some point - and big thanks to Mr. Greenberg! November 18, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by A Course Can Add to Your Life All education is valuable, some more valuable. How can we measure the value of education? Did it save a life as CPR training might? Did it make you money as career training could? Those questions certainly address return on investment. What about the education that touches and adds an entirely new dimension to you, you as a person? That's education of great value. This course, for me, was that sort of education experience. I had watched and even liked a couple of operas before taking this course. But since taking the course, ready for this?, opera has become a regular part of my life. I enjoyed the class so much that I wanted to hear and experience the operas covered. So I bought a few. Then I bought a few more. Then I bought a few DVDs so I could watch these operas. Today, I listen to opera daily --- and a DVD goes with me on every business trip. Professor presentation? I thought he was great. It comes through that he is a good guy. He's is a times flamboyant. Sometimes his jokes are corny. What would you expect from a professor of music teaching a course on Opera? Well? I want some flair. I want style. Greenberg delivers. I'm amazed sometimes at what people criticize. I fear sometimes that these criticisms will drive a dumbing-down of the great courses. This course is really superb. When I started, before I started, I wondered if I could even make it though all the lectures. Well, I did and I'm richer for the experience. What has enriched you lately? Maybe it's time to explore opera! I highly recommend this class. It is excellent. July 16, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by Very Good, but not Greenberg at his best This course dates from 1997 when Professor Greenberg was sporting a 1970s-style moustache and was still finding his way, forming his lecture style which today is so distinctive ~ inimitable. It is a tremendously valuable course, but it should be titled "The History and Development of Opera". In my opinion the course does not fulfill its actual title at all. It starts off pretty much plunging you in at the deep end, with minimal explanations or background, and thereafter relates the history of opera, how styles developed, what the characters and arias are about, all with a fair amount of wonderful extracts from the operas. I found it very off-putting that Dr. Greenberg continually held in his hands a stack of fluorescent-yellow-coloured notes from whiich he basically read most of the lectures. His sarcastic humour, snide throwaway lines and corny jokes mainly fell flat (presentation still a work in progress). There were very few chuckles and guffaws from the studio audience, and I often winced at his remarks... sorry! Whether the very heavy emphasis on specific operas was correct or appropriate, I cannot say at this point... I'm very much a newcomer to opera. I'll have to run this course again to obtain maximum benefit. Right now I do not feel that I have learned HOW to listen to and understand opera, but I have learned much about the history and development of opera. June 12, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Another Greenburg Masterpiece! This is the fourth Robert Greenburg music course that I have completed. Like the other three, "How to Listen to and Understand Opera" is a masterpiece. This course integrates history, biography, politics and music as Dr. Greenburg traces the development of opera from its beginnings in the early 17th century through the early 20th century. Changes in Italian opera during the 18th and 19th century shape the development of opera in France, Germany, Russia and England in the same and later periods. These influences are illustrated with libretto and score. Doctor Greenburg is emphatic that the operas he chose for illustration are his favorites, but that many others could be selected. His wit and humor spice the course. This is a marvelous course for a neophyte to understand and appreciate opera. I suggest that other Greenburg courses, "The Symphony," "How to Listen to Great Music," and "Fundamentals of Music" serve as prerequisites to this course. May 1, 2013
2 3 next>>

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought

Some courses include Free digital streaming.

Enjoy instantly on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Buy together as a Set
and
Save Up To $390.00
Choose a Set Format
$119.90
$219.90
$159.90