When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the age of just 35, he nonetheless left behind the defining composition in every available musical genre of his time: symphony, chamber music, masses, and above all - opera. Opera was the prestige genre of the era, and the thought of it, Mozart wrote, made him "beside myself at once." It was a form he loved dearly, depending on it heavily for personal, professional, artistic, and financial reasons of the greatest weight.
Artistically, the world of the operatic stage spoke deeply to his primal instinct for play, his taste for fantasy, and his restless creative imagination. And in this rich series of eight entertaining lectures, you'll learn how his operas vied with one another for the acclaim reserved for the greatest achievements of human artistic striving: Idomeneo, The Abduction from the Harem, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute, which premiered only ten weeks before his untimely death.
In addition to summarizing Mozart's life and artistic development, the lectures focus on two of his greatest masterpieces, Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute, to help you understand more fully the height of Mozart's operatic achievement.
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.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
First of all, I have several Great Courses for which I paid full price from the Teaching Company - I love the courses and get a lot of pleasure out of listening to them. The value of being able to get Great Courses for one Audible Credit per course is ALONE worth an annual Audible subscription.
Second, I think Robert Greenberg's Music Courses are terrific and really one of the best uses of the audio book format for university level lectures. You not only hear the discussion of the music but hear music samples as well which makes it far superior to books about music history which can't provide samples of the music discussed. Greenberg's choices of music to illustrate the points he make are always excellent and really make listening to these lectures an enormous pleasure. Like others have said elsewhere, he can be quite corny -if that bothers you this is not the professor you will want to hear. I find his energy and enthusiasm makes the course more interesting and his attempts at humor are rather endearing (it may be that people from New Jersey find corniness less offensive). I appreciate his attempts to liven things up even if some of the jokes are rather silly.
Third, although I am not particularly knowledgeable about music the more I get to know opera the more I realize how very much I love Mozart's operas. It is true that Greenberg spends a lot of time on Cosi Fan Tutte as another listener noted. I didn't expect this to be exhaustive but rather Greenberg's own view of the most interesting aspects of Mozart's operas since it is still an introductory level course. For someone as prolific as Mozart it didn't surprise me that the professor made a selection based on his views. However, if you are expecting it to be exhaustive you will not be satisfied. Greenberg is very informative but selective, and with me that's OK.
Lastly, some negative comments have been made on the lack of librettos included with the course - those librettos are not part of the more expensive versions of the course either. You have to get librettos on your own - there are no entire operas included in the course, only excerpts so I don't know why anyone would think a libretto would be needed to follow the lectures. Some of the complaints made by listeners are very picky considering the comparative value of getting these courses so cheaply on Audible.
Very highly recommended.
Greenberg is an entertainer, as well as being very knowledgable. He had me laughing out loud at his translations and performances, in character,of the recitatives. He makes getting stuck in traffic a pleasure. The only caveat: he dealt with "Figaro" in his opera course; unfortunately he did not include it here (although he certainly apologized for the omission, and included one finale).
One of my favorites.
Mozart is always interesting and Robert Greenberg's enthusiasm and sidebars make him even more so!
I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.
I have been an opera lover for decades, and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" is my absolute favorite. I also like "The Magic Flute" and "Don Giovanni" very much. I wanted to know more about Mozart and his operas, and this title did deliver.
Unfortunately, the first third of the series was devoted to "Cosi Fan Tutte". While I did learn a lot about Cosi, I have always disliked the inane story, and the lectures changed my opinion only slightly for the better.
The middle third of the series was devoted to Mozart's early life and early works, and (IIRC) "Don Giovanni". I found the information, and some of the selections, fascinating.
The last third gave very short shrift to "The Marriage of Figaro". I think Marriage might have gotten 1 lecture (45 minutes), possibly 2. The lack of attention paid to "Marriage" is perplexing, since Dr. Greenberg points out its many stellar arias, particularly the sextet when Susanna learns Figaro's parentage. "The Abduction from the Seraglio" is barely mentioned. A lot of time was spent explaining the Masonic origins and meanings in "The Magic Flute". I've always felt "Flute" dragged during the Masonic tests, but Dr. Greenberg's explanation made those sections more interesting to me, as well as explaining why Pamina joined Tamino for the last test, and why Papageno was not punished for his general bad behavior.
In addition to my disappointment in the relative amount of time spent on the various operas, I also found Dr. Greenberg's voice somewhat grating. I did enjoy his enthusiasm for his subject.
In summary, I'd say that this lecture provides excellent information and musical selections, but I wish Mozart's great operas had all gotten equal analysis time.
In addition to being a first class musician and composer, Professor Greenberg is an incredibly talented lecturer. More academics need to listen carefully to his style. He truly loves his subject, he is exceptionally good at presenting his material and
best of all his down to earth humor makes listening to his lectures a delight.
If only more academics could teach like this our profession would be in much better shape. Kudos to this wonderful Maestro.
Just buy it!
Also Audible people please change the items in these reviews for The Great Courses
Yes. I found Professer Greenberg's enthusiastic and jokey presentation quite engaging although it might not appeal to every.one. He concentrates heavily on Cosi fan Tutte and The Magic Flute possibly overmuch and maybe more insight into the background to the operas and more music rather than a recitation of the plot lines would have been preferable. However overall very enjoyable.
"Not a great course at all!"
Aside from about half an hour of the first lecture, which is biographical, this 'course' is actually just a massive plot summary of the mentioned operas. He literally just translates a scene, plays it, translates a scene, plays it, ad nauseum. There is no analysis or insight here. Just save yourself time and get a translation of the libretto and a CD of the opera!
"Thank you, Professor Greenberg"
A thoroughly engaging, lively and unpompous guide to Mozart and his operas. Audiobook was made for this type of content and Robert Greenberg's presentation takes full advantage of the medium. i would also recommend the other Greenberg Great Course audiobooks on music. Does what is promised in helping the listener understand and appreciate great music.
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