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How to Listen to and Understand Opera | [The Great Courses]

How to Listen to and Understand Opera

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©1997 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1997 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-13-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    2
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    Story
    "Wish It Was Even Longer"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Listen to and Understand Opera?

    The description of singing voices and how each is used to further an opera's impact.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Tosca, one of my favorites and the author's as well.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of Desdemona from Otello.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ona Seneca, MO, United States 05-17-14
    Ona Seneca, MO, United States 05-17-14 Member Since 2011

    reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    14
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    Story
    "The Fat Lady Will Never Sing for this one"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Opera to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Professor Greenberg's humorous way of dealing with what could be a fairly dry topic.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Greenberg – was your favorite?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This question so does not apply to this work.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Lucero Albuquerque, NM USA 09-10-14
    S. Lucero Albuquerque, NM USA 09-10-14 Member Since 2013

    vulgar71

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Great Intro into Opera"
    If you could sum up How to Listen to and Understand Opera in three words, what would they be?

    Informative. Interesting. FUNdamental


    What did you like best about this story?

    The presenter, Prof. Robert Greenberg delivered the lectures in information-pact sessions, but was never boring. You can tell that he has a real passion for the subject. He was informative, funny, and entertaining. He took a subject I knew nothing about and made it wort the 36 hours I put in. I'll admit that I was a little sad for the lectures to end. I suppose I'll have to get another course taught by Prof. Greenberg.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Andy
    Leicester, United Kingdom
    2/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Never knew opera could be so much fun or so funny"
    What made the experience of listening to How to Listen to and Understand Opera the most enjoyable?

    Lots of insight into the world of opera and the way pieces are constructed and the different forms and style


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Listen to and Understand Opera?

    The marriage of figaro lots of information and insight. Also made the funny side stand out


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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