Opera Literature Fall 2012

Operas this season in Nashville are:


Madame Butterfly,

The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (world premier),

La Cenerentola (Cinderella story), &

Magic Flute.

APSU Opera Theatre will have a production, too!!

OPERA LITERATURE     MUS 4450*  MUS 5450**        FALL 2012

The development of opera from its beginning in the late 16th century to the present.                                   3 hours credit, Tues., Thurs. 9:35-11ish  Room 232

Dr. King, M/MC  322,  office 221-7648  cell 931-220-2853 < kingt@apsu.edu> < www.drthomasking.com>  FaceBook Opera group [to be determined] <TK FaceBook Thomas R. King>

Prerequisite:  MUS 1970. Join FaceBook AND our FaceBook group. Go to the listening lab and peruse the books and materials on reserve for Opera Literature.

There is no textbook. Materials needed will be on reserve in the listening lab, in the Opera News magazines by TK’s office,on TK’s web site, on our class FaceBook group on YouTube, DVD’s in TK’s office AND at the ***Nashville Opera performances (see below and APSU’s own opera workshop performance. Students will be expected to research information about opera performances, opera history, and famous singers and construct a personal +++OPERA JOURNAL (see below for contents).

Objectives:   The student will:  (1) discern the different styles of opera and will learn the terms used to describe opera.  (2) gain an awareness of the place of opera in general music history.  (3) experience opera through videos and lives performances of arias.  (4) learn about famous singers of opera.    (5) become aware of how and where his/her voice is best suited in operas.

Choose one opera from each of the following six* eras.  1960 to the present, 1900-1960, 1850-1900, 1800-1850, MOZART, 1600-1750.

Try to represent four languages (English, Italian, French and German) among your 6 operas.  Analyze them as to (1) comedy,/tragedy/mixture??  (2) composer, which other operas he/she wrote, other compositions, known for opera?, training to become an opera composer   (3) librettist,    (4) length, acts, sections,   (5) character types needed for the main roles,    (6) voice types needed for the main roles,    (7)  accompaniment, size orchestra (standard, Wagnerian, chamber size, etc.), harpsichord, unusual instruments, etc.,    (8)  recitative-aria, sections, set pieces or through composed,    (9) choruses and ensembles (duets through septets), and   (10) plot.  Tell the plot in 10 sentences or fewer.  Include all ELEVEN of these topics in your analysis.  THEN (11) add any unusual events concerning the opera (composer died in the middle, composer ran off with the leading lady, composer stole the libretto, odd stories, gossip, etc.)

Compare each of your operas to “Amahl and the Night Visitors” of Menotti, the first opera written for television, and/or to” Orfeo”, the first opera written.  Are they similar because of length, language, aria and recitative, plot, characters, voice types, etc.???

Watch the DVDs/videos/YouTubes of your six operas or of operas similar to yours, if your specific opera is not available for viewing.  Listen to various recordings of selected sections of your opera, and compare the voices.  For example, choose one aria and listen to three or four sopranos singing.  How do they compare?

*Undergraduates need only report on 4 operas from these six eras. Undergraduates may also join with a graduate student in a dual report on one of the Mozart operas.

+++Keep an OPERA JOURNAL of voice types, terms, analysis of six operas of each student (name of opera, composer, year composed, language, type of opera, and part(s) for you. OPERA JOURNAL check each week. OPERA JOURNAL due November 29.

**Graduate students work on 3 opera arias (*Undergraduates only 2 arias) during the semester.

Calendar and Activities:

August 28 Introduction to the course, voice types, opera terms

August 30 continue voice types of singers needed for opera: soubrette, lyric soprano, lyric coloratura soprano, dramatic coloratura soprano, spinto (young dramatic), dramatic, hoch dramatisch (7 kinds)      lyric mezzo, dramatic mezzo, comic alto (3 kinds)        Spiel tenor (buffo), lyric tenor, Italian tenor, young Helden tenor, Helden tenor (5 kinds)      lyric baritone, cavalier baritone, character baritone, Helden baritone (4 kinds)      bass baritone, bass buffo, serious bass  (3 kinds)     countertenor!     total   23 different voice types in opera.

September 4 Opera terms, handout, quick oral quiz over these terms.

September 6  Amahl and the Night Visitors of Menotti   presentation in class

September 12 ORAL analysis due (a shortened version of the 6 opera analysis above)

September 13 Orfeo of Monteverdi   presentation in class

September 18 ORAL analysis due ( a shortened version of the 6 opera analysis above)

September 20 first opera due (1960 to the present). The operas are to be presented starting with the most modern and working back into the past.  Some of the operas will be presented as ORAL REPORTS for the entire class. One opera is due every 2 weeks. Plan your reports carefully and thoroughly. TK will give several reports as a guide. Use live performances and/or DVD viewing during your report.

Sep 20-1960-present     Oct 2-1900-1960              Oct 18-1850-1900     Oct 30-1800-1850                                Nov 13-Mozart             Nov 27-early

[You will become an expert on the operas which you present, AND pay special attention to the oral reports given by others.  You will also be responsible for the information offered about those operas.]

DUE October 9  Write the story (libretto) for your own opera using typical characters with typical voice types.  Write a synopsis (in dialogue form) which can be SPOKEN by the class (without music).  The entire written presentation should be about 3 pages long, no more! Assign the parts to members of our class.

DUE November 1,6,8 Learn **3 arias (*undergraduates only 2) from different opera eras and in different languages. The arias must fit your voice type and need NOT be memorized. Present these arias on one of the above dates.


Quizzes:  September 25, October 9, November 1

There will be three quizzes during the semester. The information needed for these quizzes will be explained in class and will be in your JOURNALS.  (e.g., list of opera terms, voice types, composers of operas, opera era names, etc.)

Final Exam:  There will be a final exam covering lots of wonderful information and giving you lots of chances to tell what you know about opera.

Attendance: Class attendance is most important because of the information covered in each class session. Student missing 3 times will receive a lower grade unless extra credit is completed. Student missing 6 times will receive a lower grade.

Grades:  Students’ grades will reflect attendance, preparation for class, participation in class, video work, homework completed, the OPERA JOURNAL, quizzes, and the final exam.

terms   2%       voice types  2%        each opera report 10%    total undergrad  40%        grad 60%

each quiz 5%    total 15%             each aria 3%     total   undergrad  6%   grad   12%

libretto 5%          OPERA JOURNAL  15%            final 20%

total undergraduates  105%     graduates  131%

Any student who has a condition that may affect his/her academic performance in this class is encouraged to make an appointment with me to discuss this matter, or with the Coordinator of Disability Issues at VOX 221-6230. VOX tty 221-6278.  Students must read the ‘Code of Student Conduct’ in the new Student Handbook for an understanding of what will be expected of them within the academic setting.  NO FOOD, DRINK (water allowed), MINORS IN CLASS.  PLEASE TURN OFF CELL PHONES & BEEPERS.Tardiness will not be tolerated. Arrive on time, ready to work. The teacher and students will be prepared for class. No minors allowed in class (especially on snow days). Midterm grades will be given. The schedule of events explained in this syllabus is subject to change

**Graduate Students:  This class is designed to cover much material about opera. Use this opportunity to do research and reporting on a graduate level (which means ORAL REPORTS with depth, arias with elegance and forethought, quizzes with strong answers, analyses in class as leaders of the class).  Be thorough, find reputable sources (don’t just copy web sites), explore off campus references, and compile information which will be important for future opera study, both personal and intellectual.


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