How to Listen to and Understand Opera : The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg
  • Series: The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music
  • 24 hrs and 23 mins
  • Lecture

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Kristi Richardson

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.
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- Kindle Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses