Catalog 2017-2018

MUS 207 Opera, Culture and Storytelling

An in-depth investigation of five operas, spanning the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The class will be team taught by Professor Link and our Alltech artist in residence, Gregory Turay, and will thus combine academic and theoretical aspects of opera studies with practical ones. The course is highly interdisciplinary, and non-music students are encouraged to enroll. We will examine the historical and societal factors that underlie each opera—the neo-classical Florentine project to restore Greek drama (at that time thought to have been all sung), the early-eighteenth century agenda of presenting rulers as wise and benevolent, Wagner’s and Verdi’s respective roles in creating unified German and Italian states, and so on. We will also approach the complex question of opera as a unique and highly problematic mode of storytelling, one in which actors portray the speech of characters by means of singing on the operatic stage, and will consider as well the changing, ever nebulous role of the operatic orchestra in conveying the story to the audience. These and other questions will intersect with philosophical, literary, and dramatic theory and criticism, leaving ample room for each student to bring his or her interests and course of study to bear on discussion, presentations, and final papers. Those taking the course as MUS 334 will be asked to draw upon musico-historical and musico-theoretical concepts in their projects and papers; those taking the course as MUS 207 will not.

Credits

3