MUSI 281 - Love, Death, and Politics in Italian Opera
Semester Offered: Spring
(Same as ITAL 281 ) This course presents seven milestones of Italian opera, from Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607) to Puccini’s La Bohème (1896), as well as many examples from other Italian and non-Italian operatic works. We reflect on a variety of topics -including music, genre, performance, gender, culture, and politics- which will help us appreciate opera both as a form of art and entertainment and as a cultural and social phenomenon. We reflect on the relationship between music and poetry, tracing Baroque, Classical, and Romantic debates over the supremacy of one art over the other and vice versa. We also consider how operas engage with the Italian past following political agendas, and advance patriotic or nationalistic ideas; how they represent or challenge traditional gender roles; and how Italian intellectuals turned to opera to reflect on the changing roles of women (as did Neera with Rigoletto or Pirandello with Il trovatore).
Our exploration of the historical and cultural contexts where each opera was produced includes the complex scientific and historical debates that led to the birth of opera in Florence at the turn of the 16th century; the musical formation of singers, musicians, and composers in the Neapolitan conservatories between the 17th and 18th centuries (i.e., the curriculum of solfeggio and partimento); the influence of commedia dell’arte on opera buffa; and the emergence of new professions, such as impresari, and institutions, such as modern theaters. Students acquire the technical vocabulary to analyze opera and a solid knowledge of its historical development. The class attends a production at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. No prior knowledge of music is required. Paolo Scartoni.
Two 75-minute periods.
Course Format: CLS
Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)