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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.
©1997 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1997 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Kristi Richardson on 09-18-15

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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19 of 19 people found this review helpful


By Kindle Customer on 11-28-14

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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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Stephen on 07-20-15

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.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Andy on 02-21-14

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

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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