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
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!
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