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How to Listen to and Understand Opera Lecture

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.

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

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  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 09-18-15
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 09-18-15 Member Since 2016

    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.

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    "Professor Robert Greenberg does it again!"

    Lectures

    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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 11-28-14 Member Since 2013

    I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.

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    "Learning and loving it"

    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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Virginia 01-06-15
    Kindle Customer Virginia 01-06-15 Member Since 2014

    Craftyswlady

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    ""The Origin of Opera" Would Be More Appropriate"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "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.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 05-26-15
    Anita San Francisco, CA, United States 05-26-15 Member Since 2010
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    "If you love music but could never get into opera.."

    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!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eag 03-26-15
    eag 03-26-15
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    "Greenberg is fantastic"

    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!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rali Christo 09-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Greenberg teaches, amuses."

    A balanced approach, as much culture/history/philosophy on the one hand and music on the other.
    - Jude Anthony

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey NYC 05-19-15
    Jeffrey NYC 05-19-15

    Don't change the truth, let the truth change you

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    "You will not be disappointed!"

    Brava amazing, I'm a concert composer and deeply enjoyed this series

    Highly recommend this to anyone

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ona 05-17-14
    Ona 05-17-14 Member Since 2014

    reader

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    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katey 04-19-15
    Katey 04-19-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Perfect for new opera fans"

    I went to my first opera performance earlier this year and became an instant fan. This course was very enjoyable to listen to and was very helpful for helping me understand the art form. Professor was very knowledgeable, interesting, and engaging. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 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


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    7/20/15
    Overall
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    "Life-Enriching"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How to Listen to and Understand Opera to be better than the print version?

    If this were relevant the answer would be yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!


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

    Hearing excerpts from Verdi's Othello after hearing how the libretto was written by Boito, following his reconciliation with Verdi after decades.


    What about Professor Robert Greenberg’s performance did you like?

    I liked his enthusiasm and his insight, combined with his humour.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The operatic works were emotionally engaging, particularly when the context was explained by Professor Greenberg.


    Any additional comments?

    A truly great audiobook, which opened up a whole new field of exploration and enjoyment for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • cubemusic
    Reading, UK
    3/13/16
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    "Great Stuff!"

    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 :-)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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