To watch any opera lover listen to a favorite work, eyes clenched tight in concentration and passion, often betraying a tear, is to be almost envious. What must it be like, you might think, to love a piece of music so much?
And now one of music's most gifted teachers is offering you the opportunity to answer that very question, in a spellbinding series of 32 lectures that will introduce you to the transcendentally beautiful performing art that has enthralled audiences for more than 400 years.
As you meet the geniuses - including the likes of Monteverdi, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini - who have produced some of the landmark artistic achievements of the form, and listen to many of their most beautiful moments, you'll grasp how the addition of music can reveal truths beyond what mere spoken words can convey, and how opera's unique marriage of words and music makes the whole far greater than the sum of its parts.
Beginning with opera's origins in the early 17th century and continuing into the 20th, you'll trace the art's evolution and its ability to convey every shade of human emotion, whether sorrow or joy, drama or buffoonery. You'll understand how different types of voices enhance character. And you'll understand how the invention of the aria gave operatic composers a new power to make human emotions soar, adding to the impact of what continues to be one of the most beautiful musical forms ever devised.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©1997 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1997 The Great Courses
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
1 Introduction and Words and Music, I
2 Introduction and Words and Music, II
3 A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, I
4 A Brief History of Vocal Expression in Music, II
5 Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, I
6 Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, II
7 Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, III
8 Invention of Opera and Monteverdi's Orfeo, IV
9 The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, I
10 The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, II
11 The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, III
12 The Growth of Opera, the Development of Italian Opera Seria, and Mozart's Idomeneo, IV
13 The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, I
14 The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, II
15 The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, III
16 The Rise of Opera Buffa and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, IV
17 The Bel Canto Style and Rossini's The Barber of Seville, I
18 The Bel Canto Style and Rossini's The Barber of Seville, II
19 Verdi and Otello, I
20 Verdi and Otello, II
21 Verdi and Otello, III
22 Verdi and Otello, IV
23 French Opera, I
24 French Opera, II
25 German Opera Comes of Age
26 Richard Wagner and Tristan und Isolde, I
27 Richard Wagner and Tristan und Isolde, II
28 Late Romantic German Opera—Richard Strauss and Salome
29 Russian Opera, I
30 Russian Opera, II
31 Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, I
32 Verismo, Puccini, and Tosca, II
I love Professor Greenberg’s lectures and when I saw this one available on Audible I had to try it. I have never been an opera buff before (except for a fondness to Mighty Mouse growing up) but since joining Amazon Prime and noticing all of the great operas available to listen or watch on Video, I have been catching up.
What Professor Greenberg does in these lectures, (32 45 minutes in length) is tell you the history of Opera, give you some examples of some great Operas and just let you listen and enjoy.
Things I learned from this course:
1. Opera got it’s start in monastic Gregorian chants and other early choral works.
2. The language that an opera is written determines it’s style. Italian is very expressive, while German is more guttural, if you understand what I mean.
3. There are so many operas out there to enjoy, and I can’t wait!
I enjoyed listening to these lectures while I was in the hospital recently and it really got me through.
If you want to stretch your mind outside of your usual course, I highly recommend any class by Professor Robert Greenberg. He knows how to make music interesting and he makes it easy to understand. This was a real joy to hear.
I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.
I have been attending operas for 40 years. Although I have no musical training, I've always loved going to the opera, particularly Mozart. This course taught me a lot about opera terms, the history of the composers, the history of music and the how language influenced opera (different rhythms in the language require different phrasing in the music). Professor Greenberg tossed many jokes, often in the language of the composer, into the mix, about 2/3 of which amused me. The recordings selected nicely illustrated Prof. Greenberg's points.
Please, I must make one additional observation. If you are attempting to make any changes in your life, in addition to learning about opera, I recommend that you commit yourself to doing so whenever Prof. Greenberg says either "Please!" or "Quickly". If you promise to do 10 pushups, for example, you will likely get 70 to 100 done per lecture with a commitment to "Please!", and 20 to 30 if you go for "Quickly". If you're a drinker, you will be well on your way to alcoholism.
Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed the lectures and the lecturer. If you're curious about or not thoroughly knowledgeable about opera, this is a great place to start learning and (I hope) loving it.
While I had intended to engage a course about understanding and appreciating opera as an art form, this course traced the history of opera from its emergence in Italy, then its development in France and Germany and concluding with Czech opera. The lecturer tells the story of a couple of operas from each country and period and uses production cuts from the operas he is explaining. This course lulled me to sleep on many a commuter train to and from work.
Yes! I loved the parallel of the historical development of opera in general with the analysis of each individual opera's context, story and music.
The description of singing voices and how each is used to further an opera's impact.
Tosca, one of my favorites and the author's as well.
The description of Desdemona from Otello.
I had low expectations. I had listened to Prof. Greenberg's survey course and loved it. I wanted more. I took a leap on the opera course. I have no regrets at all. I bought a ticket for Le Nozze and have bought the recording and the libretto. I want to learn Italian so I can sing along!!
If you're familiar with the Great Courses at all, you know that the quality is generally outstanding. The opera course is the one that makes me feel like I should revise my other ratings downwards so that it stands out more! He's passionate and knowledgeable, which are essential, but he's unique in his ability to make me invested in opera and to describe it as something that can and does resonate in modern life. Often after a course my thoughts are, that was really interesting, I learned a lot, I'm glad I listened. But now my thoughts are, I want to listen to more opera!
I haven't read the print version, so I really could not compare the two. However, if you simply read the work, you would miss out on all the wonderful music clips used throughout.
Professor Greenberg's humorous way of dealing with what could be a fairly dry topic.
Now I can't see that this really applies. He covers a lot of territory in the history of opera. Figero is certainly memorable, but I wouldn't necessarily call him a favorite. Otello was also well done.
This question so does not apply to this work.
This is my second "Great Course" audio book performed by Professor Greenberg. He clearly enjoys his topic -- music -- and is adept at couching history in modern terms without getting tooo campy about it. I enjoyed this book and "how to listen and appreciate music" very much. Both added a great deal to my appreciation of music history and classical format.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
I guess I consider myself a semi-opera buff. I am not a fanatic, but every so often, I love me a good opera. Now with that said, I put off getting this Great Course until I had heard every other one by Robert Greenberg, and for quite a long period of time. The reason is actually pretty dumb. I didn't want to hear him tell me how great Richard Wagner is. I know, I know, Wagner did amazing things and was an innovator and all that stuff, but I am definitely not in his camp. Well, Greenberg did cover Wagner quite thoroughly, and a big part of what he said was to emphasize what a despicable human being Wagner was. One point for my team. But I already knew that.
The opera of Wagner's that he chose to explore was, of course his magnum opus, Tristan and Isolde. Here is the story (I think I can safely tell it without spoiling it, but if you are not sure about that, stop reading now). Tristan was a sailor who terrorized the town where Isolde lived. He killed a lot of people there and so on. Well, she invites him down to her place for a drink. Oh, she was a kind of voodoo doctor and regularly mixed up potions to give to people. So Tristan totally knows this but decides that since he was so mean to her town, he owes it to her to go down, drink her potion and die. Makes total sense, right? Well, he doesn't die. He falls in love with her, and she with him. Most rational people fall in love with plunderers and murderers, right? But the fact is, it is a love potion that she mixes for him. Why she loves him I'll never know other that he was surely a hunk.
So one thing leads to another and they become deeper and deeper in love. Did I mention that this opera lasts FIVE HOURS??? Which is about how long they knew each other and not in the Biblical sense, which is part of the problem, but also the reason Wagner wrote such unrequited music. It never arrives anywhere for FIVE HOURS. Well, to make a reeeeeeally long story short, Tristan does end up dying, and shortly thereafter, so does Isolde. That's it more or less.
So Professor Greenberg played many excerpts from the opera, most of which were interminable screeching (hence the term Wagnerian soprano!) and meandering of the music that is so Wagnerian. But I have to admit, the song that Isolde sings when Tristan dies, the so called Liebestod, was actually beautiful and I really enjoyed it. One point for Team Wagner. Yes, this is me speaking, the hater of all things Wagner. No screeching, just tender, sweet, sorrowful love music that actually ends on a complete cadence, probably the only one in the whole five hours. But I will guarantee you I am not going to sit through five hours of Wagner to hear one great song. I'll get a recording.
Now all the other composers and operas Professor Greenberg talked about I could easily get my mind and heart around, especially my very beloved Verdi. And many others, including of course Mozart, Rossini, Puccini, etc. and some that I had never heard of before. If you have any inclination into what opera is all about, I highly, highly recommend this course. Just don't cave on me and start to love Wagner!
"Never knew opera could be so much fun or so funny"
Lots of insight into the world of opera and the way pieces are constructed and the different forms and style
The marriage of figaro lots of information and insight. Also made the funny side stand out
If this were relevant the answer would be yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!
Hearing excerpts from Verdi's Othello after hearing how the libretto was written by Boito, following his reconciliation with Verdi after decades.
I liked his enthusiasm and his insight, combined with his humour.
The operatic works were emotionally engaging, particularly when the context was explained by Professor Greenberg.
A truly great audiobook, which opened up a whole new field of exploration and enjoyment for me.
"Outstanding narration of an excellent context"
The intense, colorful, straightforward narrating skills of Dr. Greenberg can produce vivid images of the book's ideas and concepts. The music clips wisely placed in between the text enhanced the learning experience.
Dr. Greenberg has developed a unique style of performing his lessons in an artful almost theatrical way.
Awesome lesson enhanced by the book (pdf) accompanying audio.
Loved this whirlwind tour of opera. It was marvellously and humorously delivered with lots of penetrating insights and personal thoughts. I'm hoping 'Great Courses' will do a more in depth music analytical course on opera for musicians (first year university music students) very shortly :-)
"fascinating and fun!"
very enjoyable and informative. prof. Greenberg presents material in an engaging way, you can hear passion in his voice. I would highly recommend this course.
Too strung out with lots if plots and reading from librettos rather than true analysis and historical context. Also too many unfunny attempts at humour not present in other series. I enjoyed his Wagner lectures that didn't try so hard to be amusing.
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